Boris Johnson is the upper-class mayor of London. A former school mate of prime minister David Cameron, he’s considered a likable buffoon who might some day go on to lead the country. Here’s an excerpt from a recent interview with the Financial Times in which he discussed the impact of the Olympic Games.
The mayor will be spending much of his time during the games seeking immediate investment returns during what he calls a “schmoozathon” of international investors. They will be shown a scale model of London “with flashing lights of all the opportunity areas”.
A chance to flog off bits of London, then? “A great chance to show our wares,” is how he puts it.
And is he happy to press the flesh with anyone, even business people of dubious reputation? “As the Emperor Vespasian said when he taxed the urinals outside the Colosseum, ‘pecunia non olet’ [money does not stink] is our view when it comes to attracting [investment] – within reason.”
You want a “more diversified” London economy. This may or may not be a good thing, but I am not sure how you achieve it. The financial services industry contributes about 9% of GDP, and every job in the sector is estimated to add £117,000 to the London economy.
The taxes generated by the hedge funds and private equity alone are enough to pay for 200,000 nurses or 165,000 teachers or the entire Olympic budget. How else are you going to find that money [...]?
- LIBOR collusion. The London Interbank Offered Rate, now at the heart of an $800 trillion scandal, was born in Britain and is managed by the British Bankers Association.
- The London Whale. Former JP Morgan Chase trader Bruno Iksil, responsible for the bank’s $5.8 billion trading loss, operated out of London.
- The fall of Lehman Brothers. Lehman’s London subsidiary used an accounting gimmick that was illegal in the US in order to disguise its weak financial position until the bitter end.
- The implosion of AIG. AIG’s downfall was caused by a unit called AIG Financial Products…headquartered in London.