Public Wealth for Public Good

“Crumbling bridges, shabby schools and struggling hospitals. Cities needs funds to thrive and those funds most often comes from higher taxes, debt or austerity
It doesn’t have to be this way!”

BBC World Service interview with Dag Detter

The Concept/

Public Wealth

How Public Wealth can benefit society as a whole?

National and local governments own a potential goldmine of assets, mostly in the form of real estate and state- or municipal-owned companies, with a value almost 3 times larger than public debt. While managing debt has become a matter of great concern during the financial crisis, public wealth remains opaque and largely ignored. The polarized debate between privatizers and nationalizers has missed the most important point – the quality of asset management.

Trillion (USD), global public assets

The total value of public commercial assets is roughly twice annual GDP and almost three times greater than total public debt

Trillion (USD), global public debt

“Public Wealth identifies a problem that few people had realised exists. It shatters the tired categories of left and right. And it suggests a relatively pain-free way of boosting economic growth.”

“Improvements in public wealth management suggests a relatively pain-free way of boosting economic growth and could help to win the war against corruption.”

Adrian Wooldridge, The Economist

“Public wealth – government-owned operational assets and real estate is worth well over twice GDP.”

“Improving the management of public assets – 3 percent of GDP per year—is equal to what advanced economies collect in corporate tax in a year.”

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF

– Read the full article

Better Management of public assets can generate big returns

A PENNY IN YIELD FROM ASSETS – IS A PENNY SAVED IN TAXES AND BUDGETARY CUTS

Increase in return on public assets

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Total world spending on R&D

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Annual GDP of Australia

Increase in return on public assets

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Total world spending on basic infrastructure

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Annual GDP of the United Kingdom

Copenhagen follows the MTR-example in Hong Kong and shows that professional management of public real estate in a holding company could help fund infrastructure.

– Read more about the MTR-example

Public Commercial assets

Commercial assets – those that can generate revenues, if managed professionally

The Boston-example demonstrates how governments are mismanaged due to poor accounting. It is a recipe for poor governance, if not outright corruption.

Read more how government accounting is creating bad governance  –

Endorsements of public wealth

THESE ARE SOME OF THE ENDORSEMENTS FROM WELL KNOWN EXPERTS WITHIN THE FIELD

A must-read for all mayors, city counselors and those who elect them

“Drawing on the successes and failures of cities around the world and applying exemplary analysis, Detter and Fölster uncover a treasure trove of hidden urban assets.  Transparent, accountable, and professional governance of the economic, social, and human assets of our cities is achievable.  A must-read for all mayors, city counselors and those who elect them.”

 – WILLEM H. BUITER, GLOBAL CHIEF ECONOMIST, CITI

How to turn around distressed cities

“Across the globe, people are flocking to cities.  But some cities are thriving and others aren’t. As the process of urbanization continues, it’s crucial to understand why some cities succeed and others don’t.  In this important and practical new book, Detter and Fölster teach us how to turn around distressed cities.”

– PETER ORSZAG, VICE CHAIRMAN OF INVESTMENT BANKING, LAZARD, AND FORMER DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE

a wake-up call for governments to become more responsible in managing their citizen’s wealth and securing the foundation for future generations

“Governments around the world have been acting recklessly in managing their public wealth, which is the key ingredient for securing the welfare of their citizens. This provocative book is a wake-up call for governments to become more responsible in managing their citizen’s wealth and securing the foundation for future generations.”

– MARCEL FRATZSCHER, PRESIDENT OF DIW BERLIN, PROFESSOR AT HUMBOLDT-UNIVERSITY, AND MEMBER OF THE ADVISORY COUNCIL OF THE MINISTRY OF ECONOMY OF GERMANY

Improving its management is one of the most important economic issues of our time.

“Public wealth is vast, but largely overlooked as an asset class. Improving its management is one of the most important economic issues of our time. Dag Detter and Stefan Fölster shed much light on the subject. One can only hope that their book will kickstart a debate that ushers in better stewardship of state land, buildings, utilities and other assets. The potential gains are enormous.”

– MATTHEW VALENCIA, THE ECONOMIST

There should be no excuse for those in power to dismiss these ideas.

“At a time of mistrust in traditional politics and weak public finances, Dag Detter and Stefan Fölster show politicians the way to demonstrate they are on the side of the people and to manage government assets better. There should be no excuse for those in power to dismiss these ideas.”

– CHRIS GILES, ECONOMICS EDITOR OF THE FINANCIAL TIMES 

Further reading

By DAG DETTER & Stefan fölster

This book shows that public wealth is vast and could be put to much better use. Most countries’ public wealth is larger than their public debt. The polarized debate between privatizers and nationalizers has missed the most important point – the quality of asset management.

THE ECONOMIST & FINANCIAL TIMES
BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR / 2015
This forthcoming book describes a new way of boosting cities that have already led to remarkable success in some cities. The key is to unlock a city’s hidden social, human and economic wealth. A focus on public wealth shifts attention and resources from short-term spending to investments that can vastly raise the quality of life in the long run.