Intelligence Squared

This event has already taken place.

Host: Intelligence Squared
Location: Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR
Speaker: Anthony Fry, Jennifer Moses, Fraser Nelson, Aditya Chakrabortty, Ken Livingstone, Ed Vulliamy

 

Do the British have a death wish? You’d be forgiven for thinking so the way so many of them seem to want to cripple the most dynamic part of their own economy. What is the world’s largest market for dollars? London. Where does the Chinese State Administration of Foreign Exchange go when it wants to buy or sell billions of US Treasury bonds? London. Which sector of the economy delivers £12 out of every £100 in tax to the Chancellor of the Exchequer? London’s financial centre.

Its accumulated skills, its light touch regulation, its openness to competition – these have made London the envy of the world, the magnet for all the smartest financiers: they have turned London into the most exciting city to live in on the planet. Of course there have been scandals – what do you expect in the world’s most competitive market place? Yet instead of lauding London’s banks for their achievement in outclassing all their rivals, we seem interested only in penalising them and letting New York or Frankfurt steal the show. Stop it. Learn to love London’s bankers.

That’s the line being sold by those who love the City. But when you start allocating blame for the financial crisis, when you think that it was deals done in London that led to the downfall of Lehman Brothers, AIG and Bear Stearns; when you consider the bonus culture, the Libor scandal, the money-laundering of Mexican drug money – can you really buy it?

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