Five Cities

In the history of Western Civilization, five cities stand out: Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and Philadelphia. Those five cities are proxies for the ideals of law, democracy, stability, commerce, and constitutional democracy. These ideals have become dominant around the world, and form the foundation of our current economic structure.

Today, five cities are still critical to global growth. They are: Beijing, Jerusalem, Athens, Frankfurt, and Washington. Beijing stands for the hopes of more than a 1/6th of the world’s population; Jerusalem is the key to the aspirations of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Jews; Athens and Frankfurt are at heart of a fiscal crisis and European order; and Washington has replaced Philadelphia as America’s capital which sets policy for the world’s largest representative democracy.

It’s interesting how everything old has become new again. Jerusalem and Athens are still at the heart of global progress, although not in their former manner. Instead of being a cultural center, Athens epitomizes our modern fiscal crises, where a country’s citizens think they can receive benefits that they don’t have to pay for. Jerusalem is at the nub of a Middle Eastern conflict that plagues a world in need of Middle Eastern oil.

The greatest difference is the addition of Beijing—which oversees the development of over a billion people. A generation ago the Chinese were starving; now they’re adding their labor and creativity to the global economy.

It pays to keep these cities in focus. They’re our cultural legacy, and policies affecting them will affect us all.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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