The World's Fastest-Growing and Fastest-Shrinking Cities in 2012

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Anybody see a trend?

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GRAPH: 19 of the 20 fastest-growing cities in 2012 were in China; 19 of the 20 slowest-growing cities were in Europe

If you want to see what economists are talking about when they talk about a "two-speed" world, just look at this graph above, from today's Brookings Global MetroMonitor, which ranks the world's 300 biggest cities by GDP and job growth.

The top 50 fastest-growing cities, by GDP per capita, are practically all in the developing Asian world. The top 18 are in China. The rest are in China, Indonesia (Jakarta), India (Chennai), and Australia (Perth).

Of the world's fastest-shrinking cities, 42 of the bottom 50 were in the EU. The others included Dubai, Adelaide, Australia, and Albuquerque.

Entering next year, both the fastest growing and fastest shrinking cities in the world are in countries with big question marks. China's iffy transition from investment economy to consumption economy has some worried about the regions growth and the global commodity boom that supports resource-rich economies like Australia and Peru. Meanwhile, Europe has managed to prevent a depression by enforcing a managed recession on the entire EU. There is no expectation that Europe will grow more than 0.0% in 2013; meanwhile India's growth has returned to its 2007 lows.

But, as the graph at the top suggests, world markets rely on world-leading Chinese growth, and a clear deceleration in its economy -- even if it turns out to be good for wages, workers, and the China's necessary evolution into a modern consumer economy -- would result in hundreds of slower-growing cities around the world in 2013.

To play you out, here are the top ten/bottom ten cities, according to Brookings (every metro in the top chart is in China) ...

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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