The Mercer "cost of living index" shows the fifty most expensive cities in the world. US urban areas turn out to be pretty cheap — New York is number 15, Los Angeles is number 42, and there are no other American cities on the list. On the other hand, both NYC and LA got substantially cheaper over the previous twelve months, which I believe is an exchange rate phenomenon. Either way, a great nation such as ours ought to contain more super-expensive cities than does Japan, not fewer.

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