The Great Debate UK

from Breakingviews:

London real estate at an inflection point

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Most real estate valuers in London think property prices in the UK capital are about to fall. That prediction has been easy to make and easier to get wrong in the last five years. This time, the evidence that global investors’ favourite housing market has peaked is looking credible.

House prices in London as a whole are still rising on a monthly and annual basis, and are 20 percent more expensive than a year ago, according to the Office for National Statistics. But there is stasis in the process upstream. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ latest monthly survey shows a sharp dip in those wanting to buy in London, and an even sharper jump in those keen to sell.

Monthly sales volumes are off 17 percent in Greater London since December, says the Land Registry. A small majority of RICS’ members now expect values in the city to fall in sympathy.

from The Great Debate:

Riots show us the fragility of law and order

By Nicholas Wapshott
All opinions expressed are his own.

The pictures from London of scorched double-deckers, burnt out stores, and hooded thugs hauling home flat screen TVs are deeply unsettling. Among those who have appeared in court so far are a postman, a school worker, a new father out shopping for diapers, the undergraduate daughter of a multi-millionaire, and an 11-year-old boy who posted on Facebook: "Let's start a riot." Something has profoundly changed in William Blake’s green and pleasant land. The honest, upright descendants of Londoners who met the Blitz with a shrug are now cowering in their homes to escape the marauding mob.

What has rattled Britain? What prompted this thuggery and thievery? The spark, as is often the case with civil unrest, was a controversial action by police who shot dead a robbery suspect. Indignant friends of the victim marched on the local precinct and before long, with police distracted and their forces stretched, looters took advantage of the mayhem and began pillaging stores. What has taken Britain by surprise is that the lawbreaking did not end. Night after night since, and even in broad daylight, the destruction has continued.

from The Great Debate:

Rioters without a cause

By John Lloyd
All opinions expressed are his own.

On Sunday evening, a middle aged woman waded into a crowd of rioters in Hackney and shouted that she was ashamed to be black, ashamed to be a Hackney woman – because of the destruction and fear the rioters were spreading about them. But she went further. She said - Get real black people! I am ashamed to be a Hackney person! If you want a cause, get a cause! (See video below; contains graphic language.)

I had just spent a day, in Glasgow, with men who had had a cause. Forty years ago, workers at the Upper Clyde Shipyards in Scotland’s great old industrial city, where the workforce was being cut, voted to stage a work-in: a novel form of industrial action in which those laid off reported for work as normal, and continued to build ships. The action was led by two men, Jimmy Airlie and Jimmy Reid, both charismatic, both fighting for a cause – the right to work, the protection of the working class. They got huge support, in the city, in the country, even internationally. They won, for the shipyards on the Clyde, a temporary reprieve.

from Newsmaker:

Send your questions for Seb Coe and Hugh Robertson

To mark the one year countdown to the London Olympics, Thomson Reuters will hold a Newsmaker on July 21 at 18:30 BST with four-time Olympic medalist and chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, Sebastian Coe and Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP.

The event will begin with a speech by Coe, who won gold in the 1500m at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, followed by a Q&A session with both guests, moderated by me, Global Sports Editor Paul Radford. The Newsmaker will be streamed live to the Reuters website and we'll provide rolling coverage of the event as it happens.

from Business Traveller:

My city’s better than yours

“The leading cities of the world – the global cities – are the very nodal hubs that knit the global economy together. Without these global cities, there would be no global economy.”
Dr. Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor, MasterCard

Why MasterCard’s recently released “Worldwide Index of Global Destination Cities” should pique the interest of meeting planners, dealmakers, investors and governments the world over.

Confronting the immigration conundrum

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BRITAIN-IMMIGRATION/

-Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.-

After being the third rail of British politics for a generation or more, immigration is suddenly a topic which can be spoken about in polite society.

G20 Toronto Summit: unexciting, but constructive?

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-Paola Subacchi, Research Director, International Economics, Chatham House, London. The opinions expressed are her own.-

The G20 summit in Toronto is not expected to create much excitement, and it never was. It comes after an intense summitry year and two meetings  – held in 2009 in London and Pittsburgh – that are difficult acts to follow.

A social media vox populi experiment

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IMG01877-20100318-1751The BBC World Service tested its capacity to produce large-scale social media events by hosting an ambitious global conversation in multiple languages from Shoreditch Town Hall in London on Thursday.

For the six-hour event, billed as “Superpower Nation Day“, the public broadcaster used television, radio and the Web to connect with people around the world.

from Commentaries:

Is Goldman’s Chinese convertible really a taxi?

BRITAIN/The number of London's trademark black taxis booked and waiting outside the European headquarters of Goldman Sachs -- meters running -- was once used by some as a barometer of the health of London's investment banking business.

When times were good, the queue was long and it was impossible for anyone else in the vicinity to hail a cab. But when the fees dried up, or markets turned, the cabbies who'd been at Goldman's beck and call suddenly had to find new customers.

from Commentaries:

Turner is right to take on swollen banks

So the watchdog can bark after all. Adair Turner, chairman of Britain's Financial Services Authority, says the financial sector has "swollen beyond its socially useful size". That is a striking statement for any financial regulator, particularly one that counts promoting London's financial centre as one of its goals. Identifying the problem, however, is the easy bit. Reversing decades of financial expansion will require global agreement on tough new rules, and the determination to make sure they are consistently enforced.

Turner's comments, in a debate hosted by Prospect magazine, underscore the extent to which the crisis has upended the received wisdom among policymakers. For years they assumed markets were self-correcting, that financial innovation brought lasting economic benefits, and that regulators should think twice before getting in the way.

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