The London Eye
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â€śIn their capital city, the English are no longer calling the shots. They are hirelingsâ€ť. Thatâ€™s Ben Judahâ€™s description of present day-London, in a NYT op-ed which went viral over the weekend. To Judah, London is a place filled almost exclusively with Russian oligarchs, Qatari princes, tottering post-colonial diplomats, Eastern European laborers, skyscrapers, and slums. Its mission is to placate Russians and their money, most recently in the form of Ukraine policy. Judah sees the Shard — which is Europeâ€™s tallest building and will be filled with offices, Michelin-starred restaurants, and mega-residences — as an emblem of Londonâ€™s decline. As it seems he intended, Judah elicited strong feelings by lacing his piece with hyperbole and caricature.
The Telegraphâ€™s Sean Thomas skewers Judahâ€™s Shard-as-symbol thesis:
What did you do over the sunny weekend? If you are a Londoner, you probably drank a crate of champagne with your best friend Ivan and several nude escorts, in your flat on top of the Shard. Or so the New York Times would have us believe, according to a rhapsodically stupid article published on Friday.
Thomas also points out that Judahâ€™s image of a Shard filled with plutocrats and prostitutes isnâ€™t accurate: its apartments are unoccupied, and wonâ€™t go on sale until the summer.
Allister Heath fisks Judahâ€™s argument and finds seven big problems: among them, Kensington and Chelsea are in fact among the most densely-populated areas in England, and â€śon most metrics London is astonishingly well integratedâ€ť.
The FTâ€™s John McDermott says Judah puts forth â€śthree lazy storiesâ€ť about London. The first is the idea that the city is becoming less dense. It isnâ€™t, and the real scandal, McDermott, says is the suburbanization of poverty. The second is that foreigners are the cause of Londonâ€™s problems. The cause, McDermott writes, is ultimately homegrown: â€śAnother way of looking at the Londonograd meme is as investment in our own public policy mistakesâ€ť. Third, McDermott disagrees with Judahâ€™s idea that any poverty â€śin inner London is prima facie evidence of a decadent capitalâ€ť.
Spearâ€™s sticks up for Judah not on the basis of the â€śdecorative-tile factsâ€ť, but because of Judahâ€™s core assertion, which is â€śdead on the moneyâ€ť. If Britain really â€śwanted to ‘bankrupt the Putin clique’,â€ť they write, â€śwe probably could, or at least give them a serious kneeing in the ballsâ€ť.
Felix argues that London is, in fact, becoming more unequal — as global financial centers are wont to do. But, he writes, thereâ€™s nothing wrong with welcoming investment into Londonâ€™s increasingly expensive real estate market. — Ben Walsh
On to todayâ€™s links:
America’s new manufacturing jobs: temp workers, lower wages, and grueling hours – Lydia DePillis
Eurozone industrial production still hasn’t returned to pre-crisis levels -Â Jason Karaian
Financial education is a sham – James Kwak
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