As people increasingly move into cities, the world’s major economic zones are concentrating around a few, mega-powerful metropolitan zones. (We could call them the 1% of cities.) These cities each engage in fierce competition to attract foreign and local investment and grow their economies. Find out where the world’s economic power lies in our list of the 25 most financially powerful cities in the world.
The capital of Russia and indisputably one of the world’s most financially powerful cities, Moscow is home to the highest amount of the world’s billionaires and to Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas exporter.
A major global financial city thanks in large part to the California Gold Rush, San Francisco originally built itself up with finance and tourism. Since the end of the 20th century, San Francisco has pushed into medical research and technology, evidenced by its role as headquarter of companies such as Facebook and Google.
The third in a three-way tie for #23 (with San Francisco and Moscow), Washington, D.C. is politics first (but politics often means money) with 29% of jobs working for the federal government. On its own, the D.C. metropolitan area is the fourth-largest metro economy in the United States.
Famous for its watchmaking, Geneva comes onto our list at #22, understandably so due to Switzerland’s reputation as a banking centre. Geneva’s private banks are home to over $1 trillion (that’s 1,000,000,000,000) in assets.
The first in a four-way tie for #18, Shanghai is the financial centre of mainland China. It should come as no shock that Shanghai has experienced double-digit growth for almost every one of the past 20 years, largely due to its port: the busiest container port in the world.
Bearing a population of over 20 million people, Beijing has a powerful economy which tripled from 2004 to 2012. After Moscow, New York, and Hong Kong, Beijing has the fourth highest amount of resident billionaires.
Home to many large oil and gas companies drilling in the nearby waters, Oslo earned fDi magazine’s top spot in large European cities with economic potential.
The last in a four-way tie for #18, Boston has an impressive financial services sector, especially in insurance and mutual funds (which locally-based Fidelity Investments helped go mainstream in the 1980s).
Tied for #16, the Osaka-Kobe metropolitan area boasts a $341 billion combined GDP. Formerly the centre of Japanese commerce, the area is still home to major companies such as Panasonic and Sharp.
By far the largest city in Ireland, Dublin has, due to strong tax incentives, become the European home to many of the world’s largest companies including Google, Twitter, and Amazon. It also hosts offices of half of the world’s top 50 banks and top 20 insurance companies.
Besides being the northernmost EU capital, Helsinki is a major global financial powerhouse. The Finnish sure make big paychecks; the mean income of Helsinki’s top 50 earners clocks in at €1.65 million.
Tied for #14 with Helsinki, Sydney is the largest city in Australia and has a larger economy than the whole of Denmark. Its financial and insurance services industry makes up 18.1% of its GDP, more than double the next closest industry.
It’s no surprise to find Zurich on our list as most Swiss banks are headquartered in this city. Beyond being the financial heart of Switzerland, Zurich is the largest centre for gold trading globally.
The second largest financial centre in North America, Chicago has been consistently rated – due to the diversity of its industries – as the United States’s most balanced economy.
Tying for the #10 spot, Toronto is the largest city in Canada and, with its surroundings, puts out over half of Canada’s manufactured goods. Ships can pick up cargo from its docks and travel all the way to the Atlantic Ocean along the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
The third Scandinavian capital on our list, Stockholm ties for the #10 spot. Stockholm’s economy is overwhelmingly dominated by service jobs (85%), making it one of the cleanest metropolises in the world.
Home to nearly a third of the country’s population, Vienna has a strong culture of innovation compared to other global cities. It consistently ranks as the world’s top destination for international congresses and conventions.
Seoul makes up almost a quarter of South Korea’s GDP despite occupying less than 1% of its land. This financial mega-city is home to some of the world’s largest brands such as Samsung, Kia, and LG.
Most people associate Los Angeles with one of its biggest money makers: film-producing Hollywood; however, it also has the fifth-busiest port in the world, focused largely on U.S.-Asia trade.
Singapore is the second freest economy in the world, behind #4 on our list. Trade is central to its existence (hearkening back to its days as the primary British naval base in East Asia) with a trade-to-GDP ratio of 408%.
The world’s fifth most financially powerful city, Paris boasts the largest business district in Europe, La Défense. While the Parisian metro focuses mostly on services, it’s also a leader in manufacturing for high-tech industries such as aerospace and electronics.
Located on the southern coast of China, Hong Kong is the largest centre for IPOs (initial public offerings, when a company goes public), pulling in 22% of IPO capital in 2009.
Japan’s massive capital, Tokyo, is the most populous urban metro in the world and plays host to 51 companies on the Fortune Global 500, more than any other city.
With a total economic output of $836 billion, London is the largest economic powerhouse in Europe, much to Parisians’ chagrin, and has more overseas banks (480) than any other global city.
It may come as no surprise that the Big Apple, New York City, tops our list as the world’s most financially powerful city. Wall Street and the rest of the major financial institutions bring NYC’s total economic output to $1.4 trillion.