Ranking the economies of Europe and some of America's biggest cities.

What if Europe were the United States? is a question we've played with often on this page, at a safe distance from the crisis across the ocean. Far from a frivolous query, it helps unpack the difference between a monetary experiment (their euro zone) and a true monetary and fiscal union (our "dollar zone"). The United States has plenty of intractable problems. Deciding whether to keep paying Medicaid for Mississippians after the state has a particularly disappointing year, or century, isn't one of them. Where we have laws and permanent transfer programs, Europe has debates over backstopping bonds and trading month-to-month bailouts for promises of fiscally ruinous austerity.

In short: If you want to understand why Europe looks like Europe, it can help to look at the United States.

This analysis from the Wall Street Journal brings color to the comparison by matching the size of U.S. metro economies to the size of European countries. I did not realize until today that the greater New York City economy was essentially the size of Spain; nor that Los Angeles was bigger than Switzerland; nor that Boston-Cambridge was larger than Greece.

Spain's impending doom.

Screen Shot 2012-07-24 at 11.39.27 AM.png The euro zone as a whole is about $17 trillion, according to the IMF, which makes it about 13 percent larger than the U.S. That means that Spain's share of the euro zone's economy (8.2%) is almost precisely equivalent to New York's share of the U.S. economy, when you include NYC's periphery in Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and parts of Pennsylvania. A useful analog when you hear stories about

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a man surveying a home garage.
    Transportation

    How Single-Family Garages Can Ease California's Housing Crisis

    Given the affordable housing crisis, California cities should encourage single-family homeowners to convert garages into apartments and accessory dwelling units.

  2. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.

  3. Transportation

    Will Ottawa Ever Get Its Light Rail?

    Sinkholes, winter-weary trains, and political upheaval have held the Confederation Line light-rail transit back from a seriously overdue opening.

  4. Design

    The Many Lives of Notre-Dame

    Far from being a single author’s definitive text, the beloved cathedral’s history is a palimpsest.

  5. Transportation

    Electric Scooters Aren’t a Transportation Revolution Yet

    New data show a staggering rise in shared dockless e-scooter use nationwide. But commuting habits have seen little change since the dawn of micromobility.