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Urban Land Rent: Singapore as a Property State

ISBN: 978-1-118-82765-9
304 pages
October 2015, Wiley-Blackwell
Urban Land Rent: Singapore as a Property State (1118827651) cover image


In Urban Land Rent, Anne Haila uses Singapore as a case study to develop an original theory of urban land rent with important implications for urban studies and urban theory.

  • Provides a comprehensive analysis of land, rent theory, and the modern city
  • Examines the question of land from a variety of perspectives: as a resource, ideologies, interventions in the land market, actors in the land market, the global scope of land markets, and investments in land
  • Details the Asian development state model, historical and contemporary land regimes, public housing models, and the development industry for Singapore and several other cities
  • Incorporates discussion of the modern real estate market, with reference to real estate investment trusts, sovereign wealth funds investing in real estate, and the fusion between sophisticated financial instruments and real estate
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Table of Contents

Series Editors’ Preface ix

Acknowledgements xi

List of Figures xiii

List of Tables xv

List of Abbreviations xvii

Glossary xix

Preface xxi

1 Introduction: Singapore as a Case and Comparison 1

European Classics and Western Theories 6

Asian Studies: A Focus on Villages 8

Urban Studies 10

The Developmental State, Asian Values and Rent-seeking 12

Singapore as a Property State 15

The Chapters 21

Notes 24

2 Ideologies of Land 26

Land Regimes 27

Debates on Genealogies 33

Philosophies of Property 36

Myths of Frontier and Homeownership 38

The Economic, Moral and Political Land Question 43

Notes 45

3 Economic Arguments: Rent Theory and Property Rights Theory 46

Concepts and Forms of Rent 46

Rent and Social Problems 48

Extending the Rent Concept 51

Property Rights Theory 53

Ambiguous Property Rights and the Market for Development Rights 56

Rent as a Social Relation 57

Urban Land Rent 59

Notes 61

4 Land Reforms: Practical Solutions and Politics of Land 63

Radicals and Moralists 64

Two Chinese Models of Land Reform 69

Modern Land Reform 72

Land Value Tax 78

Neoliberal Land Reforms 80

From Revolutions to Pragmatism 82

Notes 85

5 Land Institutions and Housing 86

Land Institutions and the Second Round of Land Acquisitions 87

National and Urban Development 94

Housing the Nation 98

Housing Welfare 105

Private, Expatriate and Migrant Housing 107

Challenges 109

The Value of Public Land and Fiscalisation of Rent 113

Notes 119

6 Property Tycoons and Speculation 120

Rent-seeking 121

Property is a Hot Topic in Singapore 123

Rumours in Hong Kong 127

Conglomerates, Dynasties and Pension Funds 130

Private and Government-linked Companies in Singapore 134

Industrial Landscape and the Jurong Town Corporation 137

Private and Government Companies Sharing the Market 139

Transnational Property Companies 146

Capricious Landlords and Mean Developers: Absolute Rent 148

Land Without Speculation 152

Notes 156

7 Diversification of a Real Estate Portfolio: The World is Singapore’s Hinterland 158

Safe Haven for Global Real Estate Flows 160

Real Estate Investment Trusts 164

Singapore Colonising the World: Sovereign Wealth Funds 167

Real Estate Investment into Singapore 170

Property-minded People 172

Casinos and Singapore as the World’s Wealth Management Centre 176

Global Rent and Racism in the Real Estate Market 178

Notes 182

8 Financial Crises and Real Estate 183

Financial Centres 186

Singapore and Hong Kong as Financial Centres 187

Nick Leeson and the Collapse of Barings 192

The IMF in Singapore 195

The Asian Crisis 197

Bangkok and Real Estate Speculation 200

Singapore and the Financial Crisis 204

The Financialisation of Land and Derivative Rent 209

Notes 213

9 Conclusion: The Land, Urban and Rent Question 215

The Regime of Regulating Public Land 215

The Land Question 217

The Urban Question 221

The Rent Question 223

Annex: Note on Data 227

References 229

Index 261

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Author Information

Anne Haila is Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She was previously Professor at the Agricultural University of Norway and Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore.  She is the author of many peer-reviewed journal articles on urban land rent theory and other topics in urban economics.
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‘The role of land and property markets in recent economic crises has clearly been significant. It also seems as if capitalism is trending towards more and more rentier as opposed to productive activities. Yet there is surprisingly little written on the subject. Haila’s book remedies this lack and comes at a very opportune moment. This is a must-read for anyone concerned with contemporary economic conditions and trends.’
? David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, City University of New York (CUNY)

'By placing Singapore’s policies and practices within a coherent analytic framework of concepts, ideologies and practices of 'land’ and ‘rent’, this book takes Singapore out of the realm of a ‘unique’ case and places it in the larger and historically deeper arena of conceptual debates in the political economy of land, property ownership and rent. Haila simultaneously provides the political economists of land with a substantive case which has seemingly solved much of the conceptual issues pragmatically.' 
? Professor Chua Beng Huat, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore
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