Friday, 27 March 2009

We are like you

Now that so much money has vapourised, does this mean that City money is not real? It is a claim I hear frequently, and seems to underpin some of the arguments for manufacturing. Much better to make real things rather than rely on fantasy money, the argument seems to run.

It reminds me of a seminar during my masters degree close to a decade ago. My soft-left professor was arguing that the City skewed UK industrial policy, and that it operated largely in its own bubble without reference to anyone else.

The issue of the day was Gordon Brown arguing with Europe about withholding tax and Eurobonds.

So to illustrate his point, my professor asked who cares about Eurobonds, who actually knew anyone who worked in that market?

Amused, I raised my hand. I worked in the Eurobond market, and it was clear to me (at the time) that the European move to impose a withholding tax was an attack on London as a financial centre (I’m not sure I still agree, I probably do).

The point being, you don’t know anyone whose livelihood depends on the City until you ask. And if you do ask, you might be surprised at the answer.

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