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Global Financial Centers After 9/11

Working paper #474
Saskia Sassen

Does the post-9/11 transformation of Lower Manhattan presage a fundamental change regarding the advantages of spatial agglomeration in contemporary economies? Despite 9/11, global financial markets appear to continue to depend on concentrated financial centers. New York City and London rank highest according to stock market capitalization and the quantity of specialized corporate services. Tokyo, Frankfurt and Paris rank highest in corporate headquarters and large commercial banks, but New York City ranks far above the rest when it comes to assets of the world’s top 25 securities firms. The corporate services sector in each of these cities varies considerably, with New York and London the largest exporters of legal and accounting services, either directly or through affiliates in other cities. On the other hand, Tokyo and Paris account for 33 percent and 12 percent of assets, respectively, of the top 50 largest commercial banks; London and Frankfurt each account for 10 percent; and New York City accounts for 9 percent. The reasons that financial concentration and agglomeration remain key features of the global financial system, and the network of global financial centers remains crucial for the global operations of markets and firms, are social connectivity, the role of financial centers in cross-border mergers, and the presence of de-nationalized elites.

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