Dec 5, 2008

Joshua Powell on the Skyscraper Index

Economist Mark Lawrence created the Skyscraper Index in 1999. That index showed the correlation between economic crashes and tall buildings. The correlation can be unnerving, especially for those in the architecture profession, such as myself. But the past 100 years show strong evidence for Lawrence – almost every time the tallest building in the world is built, there is an economic crash to follow. 1907 brought the Singer Building and the Panic of 1907, 1931 brought the Empire State Building and the Great Depression, the early 1970s brought the Sears Tower and seventies stagflation, and the late nineties brought the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the meltdown in the Asian markets. Today is no different. We have the tallest building in the world going up, the Burj Dubai, at the same time that the economy is coming down. The suggestion is that while city skylines are often seen as a symbol of a city’s prosperity, they are also an implication of depression, each of the highest peaks likely representing a crash.

~ Joshua Powell, "The Dollar and the Tower Get in Bed," LewRockwell.com, December 5, 2008

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