London (Margin) Calling

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Photo: iStockphoto.com


Gentlemen of Wall Street, dust off the sky-is-falling metaphors from the late eighties, when the Japanese were seemingly set on buying your company, your family home, and even your family. There's a different gang of foreigners set to take over the finance biz, and this time the new nemesis is, in fact, our oldest one: Britain. With explosive growth in Russia, Asia, and the Middle East, local moguls are apparently taking their money to a market closer at hand: London's. The Times reports today that the City is already surpassing our city in IPOs, raising $33.2 billion this year versus Wall Street's $26.5 billion.

That's just not fair. We've gone through the Great Depression and 9/11, and all London had to do was build that ridiculous gherkin-shaped thing they now insist on using as a backdrop for every movie. (Well, okay, and they withstood a blitz, too.) And now all of the sudden, they're the world's financial capital? Granted, the general perception is that their regulatory red tape is less painful than ours. And, yes, the new Russian gazillionaires are flocking there because homeboy oligarch Roman Abramovich already owns half of Soho. The Times cites TMK, "a Russian pipe manufacturer" that's been approached by the New York Stock Exchange but chose London, as the harbinger of things to come.

Of course, if the biggest threat to New York's supremacy is that Russian pipe manufacturers will take their pipe manufacturing to London, we imagine Wall Street will survive. (The 100 Wall Streeters polled by New York back in July didn't seem too concerned.) The big picture, however, supports the alarmist mood: The growth of syndicated lending and hedge-fund assets is also trending toward eventual European domination. One sure sign that New York is beginning to get worried: Bloomberg's office just tossed $600,000 at McKinsey Consulting to study the situation. Which sort of proves the point: That place is crawling with Brits.

New York Isn't the World's Undisputed Financial Capital [NYT]
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