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The world's best financial cities

Last updated on: September 30, 2009 

The world's best financial cities

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Rediff Business Desk in Mumbai

While London remains the world's best commercial city, Asian cities are catching up fast. China alone boasts of three cities -- Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen -- which are among the top financial hubs. Two cities from India -- Mumbai and New Delhi -- also feature in the list.

Shanghai had the largest jump in overall ranking - moving eight places from 32 in 2007 to 24 in 2008. However, Mumbai slipped three notches to 48 from 45.

Let's take a look at the two Indian cities that made it to the list of world's top financial cities compiled by MasterCard, and the world's top 10... 

Mumbai (Rank 48)

The financial capital of India is home to the country's major financial institutions, banks and stock exchanges.

The earlier business district of Ballard Estate has given way to Nariman Point in South Mumbai and more recently to the new business districts -- the Bandra Kurla Complex and Lower Parel areas, which have been built on redeveloped textile mills' land.

Newer business complexes are coming up in Andheri and other districts in the northern part of the city. These units mostly house the IT and knowledge-based industries.

Result of a merger of seven islands in the city area and four islands in the suburbs, Mumbai covers an area of about 437.71 sq.km. and houses about 11.9 million people (Census 2001).


Image: The Victoria Terminus, Mumbai.

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New Delhi (Rank 61)

Planned by Edwin Lutyens, a leading 20th century British architect, India's capital houses numerous national institutions and landmarks.

Rajiv Chowk, formerly known as Connaught Place, is one of northern India's largest commercial centres. Government and quasi-government sectors are the primary employers in New Delhi.

The city's service sectors -- information technology, telecommunications, hotels, banking, media and tourism -- have also expanded.

In 2001, New Delhi had a population of approximately 1,38,50,507, while the National Capital Territory had a population of 14 million making it the second largest metropolitan area in India after Mumbai.


Image: India Gate, New Delhi

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London (Rank 1)

The City of London is a unique concentration of international expertise and capital, with a supportive legal and regulatory system, an advanced communications and information technology infrastructure and an unrivalled concentration of professional services.

Central London is home to the headquarters of more than half of the UK's top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and more than 100 of Europe's 500 largest.

According to 2005 estimates by the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm, London has the 6th largest city economy in the world after Tokyo, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Paris. But after the financial crisis hit the world these figures have probably changed.

London itself generates approximately 20 per cent of the UK's GDP.

Financial services and tourism remain London's biggest industries. While around 325,000 people were employed in financial services in London until mid-2007, the city's tourism sector employs around 350,000 full-time workers.
London has over 480 overseas banks, more than any other city in the world.


Image: The Tower Bridge, London.

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New York (Rank 2)

A leading global city, New York exerts a powerful influence over worldwide finance, insurance, real estate, media and the arts.

New York was founded as a commercial trading post by the Dutch in 1624. The settlement was called New Amsterdam until 1664 when the colony came under English control. New York served as the capital of the United States from 1785 until 1790.

Many major corporations are headquartered in New York City, including 43 Fortune 500 companies.

Midtown Manhattan is the largest central business district in the United States and is home to the highest concentration of the city's skyscrapers. Lower Manhattan is the third largest central business district in the United States, and is home to The New York Stock Exchange, located on Wall Street, and the NASDAQ, representing the world's first and second-largest stock exchanges, respectively, when measured by average daily trading volume and overall market capitalisation.

Financial services account for more than 35 per cent of the city's employment income. Real estate is a major force in the city's economy, as the total value of all New York City property was $802.4 billion in 2006.

The city's television and film industry is the second largest in the country after Hollywood. Creative industries such as new media, advertising, fashion, design and architecture account for a growing share of employment.

High-tech industries like biotechnology, software development, game design, and Internet services are also growing.

Other important sectors include medical research and technology, non-profit institutions, and universities.

Tourism is important to New York City, with about 47 million foreign and American tourists visiting each year.


Image: New York Stock Exchange.

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Tokyo (Rank 3)

Tokyo was originally a small fishing village named Edo. Its name was changed to Tokyo when it became the imperial capital in 1868.

One of the three world finance 'command centers', along with New York and London, Tokyo has the largest metropolitan economy in the world.

According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Tokyo urban area (35.2 million people) had a total GDP of $1.191 trillion in 2005 (at purchasing power parity).

As of 2008, 47 of the companies listed on the Global 500 are based in Tokyo.

A major international finance center, it houses the headquarters of several of the world's largest investment banks and insurance companies, and serves as a hub for Japan's transportation, publishing, and broadcasting industries.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange is Japan's largest stock exchange, and second largest in the world by market capitalisation and fourth largest by share turnover.

Tourism in Tokyo is also a big contributor to the economy.


Image: Tokyo station.

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Singapore (Rank 4)

Singapore has a highly developed market-based economy. Along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the Four Asian Tigers.

The economy depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing. Manufacturing constituted 26 per cent of Singapore's GDP in 2005.

The manufacturing sector boasts of electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical engineering and biomedical industries.

Singapore has one of the busiest ports in the world and is the world's fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre after London, New York City and Tokyo.

Due to the global crisis, Singapore's economy expanded by only 1.1 per cent in 2008, much lower than the expected 4.5  to 6.5 per cent growth, while the unemployment rate was at 2.8 per cent.

The economy is expected to contract further by up to 8 per cent in 2009 and unemployment could rise to 5 per cent this year.


Image: The Singapore Lion.

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Chicago (Rank 5)

Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois, and with more than 2.8 million people and the third largest city in the United States.

Chicago is a major world financial center, with the second largest central business district in the US. The city and its surrounding metropolitan area are home to the second largest labour pool in the United States with approximately 4.25 million workers.

Manufacturing, printing, publishing and food processing play major roles in the city's economy. Several medical products and services companies are headquartered in the Chicago area, including Baxter International, Abbott Laboratories, and the Healthcare Financial Services division of General Electric.

Home to eleven Fortune 500 companies, Chicago also attracted a combined 35 million people in 2007 from around the nation and abroad.


Image: The night skyline of Chicago.

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Hong Kong (Rank 6)

Hong Kong, a territory of the People's Republic of China, is a global metropolis and international financial centre with a highly developed capitalist economy.

With a population of 7 million people and a land area of 1,054 km2 (407 sq mi), Hong Kong has been ranked the freest in the world by the Index of Economic Freedom for 15 consecutive years.

It has one of the greatest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is the sixth largest in the world, with a market capitalisation of $2.97 trillion as of October 2007, and the second highest value of initial public offerings, after London.

At the end of 2007, there were 3.46 million people employed full-time, with the unemployment rate averaging 4.1 per cent.

Hong Kong's economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for over 90 per cent of its GDP.

As of 2009, Hong Kong is the fifth most expensive city for expatriates, behind Tokyo, Osaka, Moscow, and Geneva.


Image: Hong Kong business district.

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Paris (Rank 7)

With a 2007 GDP of euro 533.6 billion ($731.3 billion), the Paris region has one of the highest GDPs in Europe.

Paris is France's premier centre of economic activity - while its population accounted for 18.8 per cent of the total population of metropolitan France in 2007, its GDP accounted for 28.7 per cent of metropolitan France's GDP.

Recently, the Paris economy has been shifting towards high-value-added service industries like finance, IT and high-tech manufacturing -- electronics, optics and aerospace. Tourism is also a major source of economic growth.


Image: The Eiffel Tower.

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Frankfurt (Rank 8)

Situated on the Main River, Frankfurt is the financial and transportation centre of Germany and the largest financial centre in continental Europe.

It is seat of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Trade Fair, as well as several large commercial banks.

Frankfurt Airport is one of the world's busiest international airports, Frankfurt Central Station is one of the largest terminal stations in Europe, and the Frankfurter Kreuz (Autobahn interchange) is the most heavily used interchange in continental Europe.

Frankfurt is commonly known as the city of the banks in Germany. In 2006, six of the ten major German banks had their headquarters in the city, including the top three (Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, and DZ Bank).

With over 922 jobs per 1,000 inhabitants, Frankfurt has the highest concentration of jobs in Germany.


Image: Trade Fair Tower, Frankfurt.

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Seoul (Rank 9)

Seoul's influence in business, international trade, politics, technology, education and entertainment all contribute to its role as a prominent global city.

Home to some of the world's largest conglomerates such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai-Kia. Seoul was Asia's most expensive city to live in 2007, and the third most expensive city worldwide.

It is ranked first on the Digital Opportunity Index, with the highest broadband internet penetration of any city. Seoul's Digital Media City is the world's first complex for high-tech technologies and a test-bed for futuristic IT and multimedia applications.

Seoul is the only city in the world featuring DMB, a digital mobile TV technology and WiBro, a wireless high-speed mobile internet service, as well as a 100Mbps fibre-optic broadband network, which is being upgraded to 1Gbps by 2012.

Although Seoul accounts for only 0.6 per cent of South Korea's land area, it generates 21 per cent of the country's entire GDP.

Many international banks have branches in Seoul, including Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, HSBC.

One of the largest exchange banks, the Korea Exchange Bank, is also headquartered in Seoul.


Image: The Samsung Tower.

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Amsterdam (Rank 10)

Amsterdam is the financial and cultural capital of the Netherlands. Many large Dutch institutions have their headquarters there, and 7 of the world's top 500 companies, including Philips and ING, are based in the city.

The Amsterdam Stock Exchange, the oldest stock exchange in the world is located in the city centre.

Though many small offices are still located on the old canals, companies are increasingly relocating outside the city centre. The Zuidas has become the new financial and legal hub.

The second Financial District is the area surrounding Amsterdam Arena. The third is the area surrounding Amsterdam Amstel railway station. The tallest building in Amsterdam, the Rembrandt Tower, is situated there, as is the headquarters of Philips.

Amsterdam is the 5th busiest tourist destination in Europe, receiving more than 4.2 million international visitors annually.


Image: Amsterdam at night.

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