As New York City deals with a seemingly endless stream of bad economic news, its chief financial officer looks back to the 1970s for a lesson of what happens when capital investments don't get made.

"It was a dirty city, it was an unsafe city, it was a city that stopped and really didn't have access to capital markets," Comptroller William Thompson Jr., 55, said in an interview. "Things started to crumble around you, and really when it comes to maintenance and other things, you can't put it off forever, so I think we need to continue to issue capital debt."

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