18 Slater - The Flickering Global City Eric Slater n the...

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 The Flickering Global City* journal of world-systems research, x, , fall , – http://jwsr.ucr.edu/ issn 1076–156x © 2004 Eric Slater I n the late 1990s, New York was the center of a great financial frenzy. The surge of the stock markets, a wave of corporate mergers, streams of new digital technology, and the strength of the dollar, were all set against the backdrop of financial crisis in East Asia and the collapse of ‘emerging markets’ in Russia and Latin America; and framed as evidence of American victory in the cold war. In an apparent reversal of hegemonic decline, New York had recovered its status as the world’s economic center-of-gravity. At the start Tokyo appeared to be supplanting New York. Tokyo registered the highest share of world market capitalization; it had the dominant aggrega- tion of international banks; the most headquarters of giant transnational firms; and the largest population of any city in the world. But as the decade began its ascendancy faltered, with the older and more established centers of accu- mulation, London and New York, recapturing central positions. Despite these irregular movements, this new constellation signaled the latest shift in a cen- turies-old progression of world economies, whereby a new city is positioned to occupy the commanding heights of the world-economy (Braudel 1984). This paper explores the trinity of dominant capitalist cities in light of the historical correlation between hegemonic transition and the prominence of financial centers (Arrighi 1994). Accordingly, it frames the study of the global city in two related contexts. First, London, New York and Tokyo, the embodiments This article explores new dimensions of the global city in light of the correlation between hegemonic transition and the promi- nence of financial centers. It counterposes Braudel’s historical sequence of dominant cities to extant approaches in the literature, shifting the emphasis from a convergence of form and function to variations in history and structure. The marked increase of finance in the composition of London, New York and Tokyo has paralleled each city’s occupation of a distinct niche in world financial markets: London is the principal center of currency exchange, New York is the primary equities market, and Tokyo is the leader in interna- tional banking. This division expresses the progression of world-economies since the nineteenth century and unfolds in the con- text of the present hegemonic transition. By combining world-historical and city-centered approaches, the article seeks to reframe the global city and overcome the limits inherent in the paradigm of globalization. abstract: * I would like to thank Giovanni Arrighi, Mehretab Assefa, Kenneth Barr, Christopher Chase-Dunn, James Rubin, Boris Stremlin, Eric Titolo, Deniz Yukseker, and the anonymous reviewer.
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