Britain: quite safe, actually

Monday’s storm in southern England may cost insurers around $500m, and the economic impact will be greater still. But for all the media’s headlines about killer storms and more chaos to come, London will be relatively untouched by the flux in weather for the near future.

In fact, London and Paris are the only cities facing a “low risk” from the impacts of climate change, according to a new report from Maplecroft, a risk consultancy. For cities at greater risk, look elsewhere. Read more

Luanda: up go the costs

If you thought that London / HK / Mumbai / [enter your city here] was a bit on the expensive side, spare a thought for those in Luanda and Juba.

The capitals of Angola and South Sudan are the 1st and 3rd most pricey oil and gas towns in the world for expats, according to hydrocarbons news provider Rigzone. Sifting through the latest cost of living data produced by ECA and Mercer International, Rigzone reckons both capitals now beat Perth and Moscow, and are separated only by Norway’s Stavanger, when it comes to their power to lighten your wallet. Read more

It was inevitable. Some 60 years ago began one of the largest migrations in history, when millions of people moved from the Latin American countryside and into cities. Then, some 10 years ago, began a consumer credit boom that saw car sales explode in the world’s most urbanised continent.

And today? To cope with the growing congestion of their megalopolises, Latin Americans are increasingly turning to bicycles to get around. Traffic jams are no longer a privilege of just the rich world. Read more

China’s drive to urbanise is expected to transform millions of poor peasants into city-dwellers in the next two decades. Despite urban migration being a top priority for policy makers in Beijing, many ordinary Chinese are feeling left behind by the country’s rapid urbanisation. The FT’s Ben Marino reports.

Shopping centre, Gurgaon. Photo: Bloomberg

Some 31 per cent of India’s 1.2bn people live in towns and cities according to India’s 2011 census, up from 28 per cent in the 2001 census.

Now the process of urbanisation is speeding up and it is tier 2 and tier 3 cities that are leading the way, argue Sheela Rathi and colleagues at Morgan Stanley in a report published this week.

It’s a theme that will affect businesses, investors and policymakers alike. Read more

If you thought ‘superstorm’ Sandy was bad, here’s a sobering thought: New York isn’t even a high-risk city when it comes to climate change. For that, head to Asia.

According to a report by Maplecroft, the risk consultancy, several big Asian financial and manufacturing centres are in the danger zone. Read more

As beyondbrics has reported before, the expansion of emerging market cities is a big deal. Urban dwellers tend to be richer than their rural counterparts, they spend more, and they are easier for companies to reach.

But when it comes to Africa and the growth story, we tend to think in terms of countries. Handily, the Economist Intelligence Unit has got past that, and identified the key 25 cities that you need to know about. Read more

India’s established metropolises are saturated with investment activity. Now, tier-two and tier-three cities are emerging as investment destinations and a new report from Cushman and Wakefield explains how much money is going into what – and where. Read more

Kenya’s ambitions to become Africa’s information-technology hub have received a boost from the US technology giant IBM, which is establishing a research laboratory in Nairobi’s Catholic University of Eastern Africa.

The project announced on Monday is a joint venture, with the Kenyan government’s ICT Board and IBM each contributing $10m of funding over the next five years. While the Kenyan government will cover overheads and local research staff, IBM will provide technology, senior scientists and access to intellectual property for the project which will come into operation in September. Read more

Rats. Raw sewage in the streets. Garbage to go. These are but of a few of the quality-of-life issues that continue to afflict many parts of major Indian cities like Mumbai.

And yet, few Mumbaikars – or Delhi-ites – would be surprised to learn that India has seen the biggest rise in housing prices of any country in the world in the ten years from 2001 to 2011, according to a study released by Lloyds TSB International this week. They need only look at their rent check, or downpayment. Read more

Everyone is moving to the city – and, especially, emerging market cities. According to a report by Credit Suisse this week, by 2037 half of the world’s population will live in one emerging market city or another.

So where should investors look to first if they want to capitalize on this trend? Apparently the smart money should head to China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. A motley bunch indeed but the logic is compelling. Read more

Everyone is talking up Africa’s potential for growth – but in a continent with more than a billion people, where should foreign companies focus their attention?

According to research by Frontier Strategy Group, Africa will have 73 cities of 1-5m people by 2025.  Matthew Spivack, head of MENA research, picks out five top urban markets across the continent – and five up-and-coming prospects. Some are very well-known; others may surprise you. Read more

Beyondbrics loves nothing more than a bit of myth-busting. So a research note on Tuesday by Renaissance Capital debunking the notion that Russia is a society of rich playboy oligarchs surrounded by poor workers certainly caught the eye.

Russia, in fact, is only marginally more unequal than China and India, and far better placed than Brazil. Read more

This month will see the world’s population reach seven billion – a chance to think about the many implications and to examine which countries have benefited from the so-called demographic dividend.

But beyondbrics is going to look at a slightly different angle: cities. Specifically, cities with over a million inhabitants. Read more