[A] brilliant synthesis of the literature on public investment. . . . An impressive scholarly work demonstrating command of diverse literatures. It is a must read for everyone interested in local public finance.
Albert Sbragia considers American urban government as an investor whether for building infrastructure or supporting economic development. Over time, such investment has become disconnected from the normal political and administrative processes of local policymaking through the use of special public spending authorities like water and sewer commissions and port, turnpike, and public power authorities. Sbragia explores how this entrepreneurial activity developed and how federal and state policies facilitated or limited it. She also analyzes the implications of cities creating innovative, special-purpose quasi-governments to circumvent and dilute state control over city finances, diluting their own authority in the process.
A sweeping and original reassessment of local governments as investors and political players within the United States federal system of government. . . . A landmark contribution to the study of urban politics and economic development.
Despite all the work that has been done on federalism, little is known about the positive contribution of state and local governments to the development of the American industrial system. This book will take its place among the important works on American political and economic development.
Alberta M. Sbragia has written on both American and European urban affairs. A Fulbright Scholar, she has been a visiting associate professor at the Harvard Business School, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, and chair of the European Community Studies Association. She is professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the Center for West European Studies.