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Robert Kloosterman: The P.C. Hooft will be quieter

15 October 2008 - Amsterdam is well prepared to weather a recession, says Robert Kloosterman, Professor of Economic Geography and Planning at the University of Amsterdam. However, luxury shops at the P.C. Hooftstraat may suffer as the bonus culture is dealt with.

Part 1 of a series on Amsterdam and the Crisis.

It is likely that a recession will slow down economic growth in the cities during the coming years. However, Amsterdam seems well prepared to weather such a recession: "Not only has the built environment been upgraded; also the composition of the population has improved with young, high-educated city-dwellers, many of them with an enterprising spirit".

With a tight labour market and a social system that focuses on activating the unemployed, the current situation is quite different from 25 years ago. "We will surely weather a recession, given the structural strength of the Dutch and especially the Amsterdam economy - a depression would be a different matter".

Kloosterman expects that financial services will remain important. "Even with more regulation, producer services, including financial services, will remain crucial to co-ordinate complex flows of goods, services and capital".

"An exciting question is to what extent Amsterdam will become a location for cross-border financial services. ABN Amro is back in Dutch hands, but the international network has disappeared, at least for now".

Another matter are the bonuses paid to CEOs in the financial sector. "It's unlikely that the extreme bonuses in the financial sector will be continued, but the effect on Amsterdam may not be large, since the top is in New York and London. Still, the demand for luxury goods and services will for some time be limited here as well; it will probably be somewhat quieter in and around the P.C. Hooftstraat".

If it regards economic policy, Amsterdam should not be obsessed by development of the Zuidas business district, which puts quite a heavy burden on the city, says Kloosterman.

What the city needs is in fact 'nothing new': a well-educated workforce, a good transportation infrastructure ('this certainly doesn't mean that cars should be given a clear field'), diverse housing and business locations, good education, good health care, good entertainment facilities and safe public spaces.

Professor Robert Kloosterman. Image: shop window at the P.C. Hooftstraat, 2007 (Photo Drinksmachine)


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