Background

Boost Economic Growth

Better governance could easily allow a doubling of public investment. This would improve flailing infrastructure and stimulate economic growth, as well as boost public accountability and improve public finances.

Every city needs investments in infrastructure and maintenance of existing public assets. Public finances focuses on tax revenue, expenditure and debt. But we forget to value public assets and how well they are managed. Cities and national governments own real estate, utilities and other corporations that combined are usually worth much more than their debt, but are poorly utilized and badly managed.

 

Professional Transparency

Professional governance requires professional transparency.

An important culprit in mismanagement of public assets is that they are not transparent and not tamper-proof. Few countries or local governments have been interested in cadasters or registries that reveal the wealth that governments formally own. Sometimes this neglect can be ascribed to carelessness, sometimes to a desire of governments to use assets in a way that conveys favors to important voter groups, and sometimes to outright corruption where real estate or other assets just silently disappear from public ownership into private hands.

 

Thought Leadership

The polarised debate between privatisers and nationalisers has missed the most important point – the quality of asset management.

Public Wealth of Nations
Most countries’ public wealth is larger than their public debt. While managing debt has become a matter of great concern during the financial crisis, public wealth remains opaque and largely ignored.

According to our calculations, an achievable improvement in public wealth management would yield returns greater than the world’s combined investment in infrastructure such as transport, power, water and communications. This book explores how some countries are experimenting with institutional setups, such as National Wealth Funds that achieve sounder management and cleaner democracy.