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Last November, the NYU Development Research Institute hosted something of an all-star cast for their “Cities and Development: Urban Determinants of Success” conference. Topics ranged from international development to housing affordability, each exploring urban planning and urban economics in their own unique way. Anyone with even a mild interest in cities and markets should set aside time for the whole series. I’ve ranked the talks in the order they were given, as the speakers sometimes reference earlier talks.

1. Paul Romer on the Power of the Grid: With limited resources, urban governments in rapidly developing countries will need to identify policy priorities. Paul Romer suggests they can learn quite a bit from the prudent planning of early New York City.

2. William Easterly and Laura Freschi on The Long History of a Short Block The strength of a city, as with economies, is the ability to adapt to unpredictable changes. William Easterly and Laura Freschi examine the unique history of a single block, and illustrate the limits of planning.

3. Edward Glaeser on Cities, Development, and the Demons of Development Why do some cities succeed where others fail? Is development possible without urbanization? Edward Glaeser discusses both questions in detail.

4. Alain Bertaud on The Effects of Top-Down Design versus Spontaneous Order on Housing Affordability What should cities plan, and what should they leave to individuals? Alain Bertaud shows how cities around the world are achieving an equilibrium between spontaneous order and top-down design.

5. Nassim Taleb on Small is Beautiful – But Also Less Fragile In a world filled with uncertainty, our cities need to be more than robust; they should be antifragile. Nassim Taleb applies his work on fragility theory to cities.

Got other lectures market urbanists might be interested in? Let us know in the comment section!

M. Nolan Gray (02/16/2015)

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