Abstract: The presentation draws on collaborative research on Jakarta and Bengaluru carried out by scholars at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the University of Minnesota, Universitas Tarumanagara (UNTAR), Jakarta, and the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru, under the NSF-funded 'Speculative Urbanism' project. We have studied the drivers and dynamics of urban land transformations and associated changes and displacements in local communities, particularly the rise of new rental economies. From large developers, to middle class residents, to those dwelling in and evicted from informal settlements, rents have become a major financial means through which they speculate on urban change. In this presentation, we show how, in both cities, this emergent rental economy is highly differentiated in terms of the gains across different groups and across different locations. We also reflect on how our findings challenge theoretical conventions of rent theory and urban theory.