The edition of the latest book by Richard Florida is available in Spanish. The great reset. New ways of living and working to promote prosperityis the embodiment of the author’s vision of the consequences of the current crisis in the reconfiguration of the economic geography in North America mainly. It is, together with the book by Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the city, one of the main references of the debate on the urban economy taking place across the ocean, sparked by the author’s collaboration with The Atlantic from an early article that already pointed out some of the book’s later contents, How the crash will reshape America. The book is first and foremost an insight into the economic and urban history of the United States. Therefore, some approaches are not transferable to the European reality. The suburbanization process, for example, has come much later and, in fact, we are still in it. European history is much broader and with many more edges than the one that Florida draws for American cities. But, possibly, the elements of analysis that the author proposes may be valid to understand the current crisis in our closest context.
The main interest of the book is the contextualization that Florida makes of the current crisis in relation to the other two great crises of the most recent past: the Long Depression of 1873 and the Great Depression of 1929< /strong>. This comparison of the causes and consequences of these three crises occupies the first part of the book, where statistical details and references abound to understand the role played in each of the two previous crises by technological advances, infrastructure development, education, demographic change and new consumption patterns, both in the generation of depressions and, above all, in building a way out of said recessions. The main thesis of this approach is that, for example, in the crisis of the late 19th century, New Jersey, Pittsburgh or Cleveland acted as urban economies and were the Silicon Valleys of their time and, together with technological development and new industries ( Edison, Westinghouse, Bell,…), were the pillars of the first great reset. For the crisis of 1929, the exit was built on the basis of a new model of industrial organization and a surprising increase -despite the crisis- in the effort in R&D, in research laboratories and an increase in jobs in the field of research, a new housing model (based on ownership access), a new urbanization model, a new infrastructure system, etc. For both cases, Florida also takes as reference the concept of spatial resolution from David Harvey, a concept that long ago explained how economic crises are overcome it requires the generation of a new form of urban organization (new real estate development model and a new spatial structure). In this way, the geographical factor acquires prominence to understand the two historical crises, with the birth of the great industrial cities at the end of the 19th century and the birth of the culture of peripheral suburbanization far from the center of the cities in the crisis of the 30 years.
These elements, presented in a very summarized way, are those that could also be transferred to our current crisis to understand its causes and, as developed later in the book, the possible solutions. Are we at the gates of a new model of urban occupation? What would be, in the current case, the spatial resolution that this crisis will take? Perhaps today the big difference is the existence of the digital, which would lead us to another discussion about to what extent the physical space continues to be decisive in the face of the idea of a flat world. Possibly the global nature of the current economy is the big difference. That is why it is more accurate to think that this spatial resolution is taking place globally and it is in the emerging countries (China, India, Brazil,…) where the spatial resolution that the economy requires to get out of the crisis is taking place. . However, Florida argues that in the current crisis the way out will be the definitive rise of the big megaregions and the back to city center.
The bases of recovery would come through the construction of a economy for the future (as was steel, for example, in the 19th century crisis ) stop supporting the industries of the past (the real estate sector and the financial sector), the generation of a new education system (the first reset led to the extension of public education and the second reset to higher education), the development of a new network of infrastructures in which the high-speed train occupies a fundamental place and, lastly, the promotion of jobs in creative sectors and the improvement of working conditions in the services sector. To this he adds a new perspective of large urban projects as engines of urban regeneration, projects that in the great reset should no longer make sense.
The two historical crises functioned, in fact, as levers for the reinvention of a new industrial model and a new way of occupying cities. The current crisis, and that remains to be seen, it is possible that it is the prologue of something similar. Richard Florida’s vision is very marked by some of the approaches in previous books -about which we have already discussed here and there has been a lot of discussion in general- and also due to a certain bias in some of the data on which he relies for certain statements. (particularly, in this book, about the birth of a new, more frugal consumer culture that is difficult to see), but it provides arguments to understand the role of the dynamic cities-new economic model, a key relationship to understand the world today. .
Note: you can read two more detailed reviews of the book, one by Michel Adams and another by Aaron Reen. both are worth it