10 reasons why the 2,073-foot Shanghai Tower has us nervous about the economy

Nothing marks the height of human achievement and economic prowess quite like a skyscraper.

The newly completed 2,083-foot tall Shanghai Tower is officially the second tallest building in the world, and the tallest in China.

And there are still taller planned skyscrapers, like China’s Sky City and Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower.

But as “cool” as all of these buildings are, glitzy construction booms have historically coincided with the beginnings of economic downturns, according to Barclays’ “Skyscraper Index.” (For all you economics wonks out there, basically, skyscrapers can be considered a sentiment indicator.)

Using Barclays’ index, we pulled together 10 skyscrapers whose constructions overlapped with financial crises.

Equitable Life Building (1873)

Equitable Life Building

The Long Depression, 1873 -- 1878

The Long Depression, a pervasive US economic recession with bank failures, coincided with the construction of the Equitable Life Building in New York City in 1873.

At the time, the building was the first skyscraper at a height of 142 feet. (You could stack 14 of these on top of each other, and they still wouldn't be taller than the China's new Shanghai Tower.)

Source: Barclays

Auditorium (1889) and New York World (1890)

New York World building on the left.

British Banking Crisis, 1890

Chicago's 269-foot-tall Auditorium building, completed in 1889, and the 309-foot-tall New York World building, completed in 1890, coincided with the British banking crisis of 1890 and a world recession.

Source: Barclays

Masonic Temple, Manhattan Life Building, and Milwaukee City Hall (1893)

Milwaukee City Hall

U.S. panic marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding, 1893

Chicago's 302-foot-tall Masonic Temple, the 348-foot-tall Manhattan Life Building, and the 353-foot-tall Milwaukee City Hall coincided with the U.S. panic of 1893 marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding.

It also overlapped with a string of bank failures and a run on gold.

Source: Barclays

Singer Building and MetLife Building (1907)

Singer Building

The Bankers' Panic and U.S. economic crisis, 1907 -- 1910

The construction of New York's 612-foot-tall Singer building and the 700-foot-tall Metropolitan Life Building corresponded with the panic of 1907.

The Bankers' Panic was a financial crisis that occurred after the NYSE fell nearly 50% from its peak, and reflected a monetary expansion brought about by the establishment of trust companies.

Source: Barclays

40 Wall Street (1929), Chrysler (1930), and Empire State Building (1931)

Empire State Building

The Great Depression, 1929 -- 1933

The construction of three record-breaking buildings coincided with the onset of the Great Depression.

40 Wall Street, which on completion in 1929 reached 927 feet, followed by the 1,046-foot-tall Chrysler building in 1930, and the Empire State building in 1931, which towered over the others at 1,250 feet.

Source: Barclays

World Trade Center (1972-1973) and Sears Tower (1974)

Sears Tower

U.S. and worldwide economic crisis, 1973 -- 1975

The 1972 construction of One World Trade Center, the 1973 completion of Two World Trade Center, and the 1974 construction of the Sears Tower in Chicago coincided with a period of speculation in monetary expansion from foreign lending.

It also coincided with the collapse of the Bretton Woods system, a rise in oil prices that caused a global economic crisis, and speculation in stocks, property, ships, and aircraft.

Source: Barclays

Petronas Towers (1997)

Petronas Towers

Asian economic crisis, 1997 -- 1998

The Asian economic crisis, currency devaluation, and speculation in stock and property coincided with the completion of the Petronas Towers in 1997.

At 1,483 feet, the Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world and heralded a crisis in that region.

Source: Barclays

Taipei 101 (1999)

Taipei 101

Dot-com bubble, 2000 -- 2003

The construction of the 1,671-foot-tall Taipei 101 began in 1999 and was completed in 2004.

The duration coincided with the tech bubble and the recession in the early 2000s.

Source: Barclays

Construction on Sky City in China is underway

Sky City

Sky City, outside of Changsha, China, is expected to be around 2,749 feet tall. The 220-story building is expected to take seven months to build at a cost of $US628 million. However, its construction has been been halted by authorities.

This building's (possible) construction comes right when everyone's worried about China's economic and political stability.

That being said, we won't know for several years if this recording breaking skyscraper coincides with an economic bust...

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