According to the A.T. Kearney “2012 Global Cities Index” (GCI 2012), the first of the three studies and the most comprehensive in defining a global city, “The world today is more about cities than countries.” Globally interconnected cities, excelling across multiple dimensions, such as culture, finance and policymaking, have more in common with each other than the smaller cities in their respective countries. GCI 2012, which was released for the first time with “Emerging Cities Outlook 2012” (ECO 2012), ranks the top 10 global cities as New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seoul, Brussels and Washington, D.C. The top first and second positions in global influence were held by New York and London in the 2010 and 2008 editions of GCI also. İstanbul ranked 37th among 66 cities, after ranking 41st among 65 cities in 2010 and 28th among 60 cities in 2008. GCI 2012 depicts İstanbul “as the hinge between West and East, with a rich imperial culture and deep knowledge about how to govern such interactions.” It is, together with Ankara, fast “becoming a major global policy nexus.”
GCI 2012 argues that the critical gap between top and average global cities is not information and technology but political engagement, which measures the extent to which a city influences global dialogue and policymaking in terms of world action in international organizations and political conferences, number of consulates and embassies and major think tanks. Washington, D.C., dominating the governance of political finance through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, is the leading global city in political engagement, followed by New York and Brussels.
ECO 2012 assesses the potential of cities in emerging economies to improve their future global standing in terms of the leading indicators of their strengths and vulnerabilities that affect business activity and human capital. It ranks the top 10 emerging-market cities as Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Bogota, Dhaka, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangalore. Beijing, the world's fastest growing political center, including the governance of state-owned financial institutions, and Shanghai, the world's fastest growing financial center, in the world's fastest urbanizing country, are expected to challenge New York and London as the two top global cities within the next two decades. Despite the praise heaped on it by GCI 2012, İstanbul is near the bottom of ECO 2012's rankings as 25th, just above Cairo, Lagos, Nairobi and Caracas, among the 29 emerging-market cities ranked. Based on strengths (GDP, middle class growth, infrastructure improvement and ease of doing business improvement) versus vulnerabilities (pollution increase, instability increase, corruption increase and healthcare deterioration), İstanbul is labeled “vulnerable and most likely to wane in global influence” within the next two decades, along with Cairo, Caracas, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi.
The other two studies, both commissioned by Citigroup Inc. (Citi), the New York City-based multinational financial services corporation, are narrower in scope than GCI 2012 in defining a global city as they focus on the business and financial center characteristics. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study “Hot Spots: Benchmarking Global City Competitiveness,” the top 10 global cities, among the 120 ranked, are New York, London, Singapore, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Boston. İstanbul ranks 74th globally, after Cape Town and before Tianjin. It ranks 28th among the 32 European cities, after Athens and before Bucharest. According to the Euromoney magazine “Global Cities Survey,” the top 10 global financial centers among the 83 ranked are New York, Frankfurt, London, Singapore, Paris, Hong Kong, Madrid, Moscow, Shanghai and São Paulo. İstanbul's major weakness, with one of the lowest scores, is in “Sustainability: Promotion of green policies and initiatives.”
To summarize, New York remains the indisputable top global city, a leading financial, business, cultural and political center, despite the damage from the recent global financial crisis. Reflecting the rapid rise of China in particular and the seismic shift of economic power from the West to the East in general, Shanghai, seems poised to challenge the dominance of New York, as well as London, as the top financial center, if not the all-round top global city, within the next two decades. Shanghai, an industrial as well as a financial powerhouse, forms a strategic city triad with Beijing and Hong Kong, benefiting from a prospering economy, growing middle class and modernizing infrastructure. İstanbul, despite its relatively low rankings, has great potential as a global city but faces intense international competition, requiring a clear vision and a huge effort at the municipal and national levels, in realizing that potential.