Podgorica is not only the administrative centre of Montenegro but also its main economic engine. Most of Montenegro's industrial, financial and commercial base is in Podgorica. Before World War I, most of Podgorica's economy was in trade and small-scale manufacture – an economic model established during the long rule of the Ottoman Empire. After World War II, Podgorica became Montenegro's capital and a focus of the rapid urbanisation and industrialisation of the Yugoslav era. Industries such as aluminium and tobacco processing, textiles, engineering, vehicle production and industrialised wine production were established in and around the city. In 1981 Podgorica's GDP per capita was 87% of the Yugoslav average. The Yugoslav wars, and the dissolution of Yugoslavia left Podgorica's industries without markets, suppliers or funds to invest and modernise equipment. This led to a decline of many factories, some of which closed down. Those surviving were privatised and have now largely recovered. The Podgorica aluminium smelter (Kombinat aluminijuma Podgorica – KAP, owned by Rusal) and AD Plantaže (a wine and brandy making company) are still among the biggest companies in Montenegro.
In the early 2000s, Podgorica's financial and service sector expanded rapidly and its economy became more service-oriented. The Montenegro Stock Exchange is situated in the city, as well as most Montenegrin banks' headquarters. Economic activity in Podgorica has mostly shifted from heavy industries to telecommunications, construction and banking. Investors and foreign companies which open outlets in Podgorica add significantly to the growth and diversification of its economy. As a side effect, the prices of property and development land in the centre of Podgorica have increased greatly. The growth, although somewhat slowed down due to late 2000s recession, is expected to continue, as Podgorica became capital of an independent country in 2006.
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“War. Fighting. Men ... every man in the whole realm is in the army.... Every man in uniform ... An economy entirely geared to war ... but there is not much war ... hardly any fighting ... yet every man a soldier from birth till death ... Men ... all men for fighting ... but no war, no wars to fight ... what is it, what does it mean?”
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“Quidquid luce fuit tenebris agit: but also the other way around. What we experience in dreams, so long as we experience it frequently, is in the end just as much a part of the total economy of our soul as anything we really experience: because of it we are richer or poorer, are sensitive to one need more or less, and are eventually guided a little by our dream-habits in broad daylight and even in the most cheerful moments occupying our waking spirit.”
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“I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical terms.”
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