Reading Fear City in 2020 - Quick Overview

Netflix released a documentary titled Fear City over the summer of 2020. But the actual nickname was first used in the 1970s by the Council for Public Safety. Originally published in 2017, Fear City by Kim Phillips-Fein is a book that describes the history of that period, focusing not so much on the criminal activity at the center of the Netflix show but more on the finances of New York.

Reading this book in 2020 can make one feel much closer to the events described. It can help understand both the current cycle and the general direction of the future. Interestingly enough, the subject of the fiscal crisis was not covered in the accounting or the finance courses of the business majors. The focus was more on the Sarbanes-Oxley era and might be news to anyone born and raised long after the 1970s. Yet learning about it can help figure out the steps to come out of the worst economic crisis in 45 years.

As of Sept 2020, the city unemployment rate stands at 16%, according to the labor department. It was 12% in 1975. Total population in the five boroughs was 7,894,862 in 1970 and is 8,550,971 in 2020, based on the NYC OpenData report. As the city was fighting for federal aid then, so it is now doing its' best to get the funding it needs to survive. Aptly referred to as the heart of America, it has managed to keep on beating through one disaster and will go on after this one as well.

The book will be of interest to anyone with a passion for numbers and history.

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