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The most expensive cities in the world: Asia rules

A resurgent yen and a weakening dollar propelled Tokyo back to the top ten of the most expensive cities in the world. Singapore and Hong Kong retained the two top spots. Only Zurich, the Swiss city in the third place, prevented the five costliest from being entirely Asian. Such is the verdict of the Economist Intelligence Unit report.

As much as a reflection of exchange rate swings, the ranking says something about the power Asia now wields. For the continent, now accounting for 40 percent of world economy, will contribute two thirds to global growth, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Four European cities were among the ten most expensive: in addition to Zurich there was Geneva, in pricey (overpriced, rather) Switzerland. Then there was Paris and Copenhagen, in Denmark. The sole representative for the New World was New York.

The list suggests a rather obvious correlation between wealth and space. Money goes not only where there is business, but also—perhaps mostly—where cultural and social life are thriving, too (exception made of Zurich and its very exciting banking industry).


So much for the posh places. Almaty, in Kazakhstan, and Lagos, in Nigeria, both business centers in their respective countries, were the cheapest. Wage and demand growth will eventually drive prices up in the emerging countries. But, as the EIU report says, “price convergence of this kind is very much a long-term trend.” In the meantime, it reminds us, “economic shocks and currency swings can make a location very expensive or very cheap very quickly.”


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