EVER since inter-dealer broker Tullett Prebon revealed on Monday it would allow its staff to relocate to more favourable tax regimes if they wish to avoid the government’s crackdown, the City has been a hotbed of gossip about whether or not the move will indeed spark a much-feared exodus of talent from our shores.
Inside the firm itself, however, I hear it’s a completely different matter. Not only are Tullett’s employees basking in the rosy glow of security now that they’ve secured themselves the cushty option, they’re also having some pretty heated debate about the impact a relocation might have on quieter corners of the globe.
“Can you imagine if 500-odd money brokers suddenly upped sticks and descended on, say the sleepy town of Zurich?” muses my man behind the trading screens, mischievously. “The local girls wouldn’t know what had hit them…”
Given the reputation of that particular profession – the heavy drinking; the East End barrow-boy banter; the passion for frequenting London’s seedier lapdancing joints – The Capitalist is rather inclined to agree with that sentiment. Perish the thought.
It’s long been a source of frustration among commentators that, despite the government’s bombardment of the banks over the past year, barely any of the City top dogs have been brave enough to stick their heads over the parapet and defend themselves.
Bob Diamond at BarCap probably came closest to an impassioned defence when he told a conference last week that the UK needs to make it a “race to the top, not a race to the bottom”; but even he was lacking the stern rhetoric that might make the government sit up and think about how its actions are alienating the City.
So it came as a pleasant surprise to The Capitalist to hear rumours of a report currently being prepared by a top accountancy firm on behalf of some of those banks – including Barclays itself and HSBC, neither of which took a direct bailout in the crisis – examining the impact of the sector on the wider economy.
In the muted world of bank politesse, thrusting concrete evidence of sky-high tax takes and co-dependent business fortunes at the powers that be is probably the closest we’re likely to come to a good old-fashioned two-fingered salute.
Yesterday, a “spend trend” survey from broker Execution revealed people are likely to reduce spending on their Christmas presents this year by 5 per cent, down to a paltry £373, and it appears high street woes aren’t going to end there.
The Wall Street Journal reports that part-time Santa Clauses across the pond in America are having a bleak time of it this year as kiddies steer clear of asking for Playstations, iPods, meerkat dolls (like golddust this Christmas, say parents) and other flash gadgets.
Apparently, more and more have been asking for basic items like socks, school shoes – and even a magic potion to turn parents into elves because they have lost jobs in the recession.
So much for festive spirit.
How about this for a conundrum: $65bn Ponzi fraudster Bernie Madoff is still managing to con people out of their cash, even from behind jailhouse bars.
OK, not really – it isn’t Madoff himself, but merely a few reports of cheeky auctioneers in the US being caught out flogging merchandise which ostensibly came from the house of Bernie and his wife Ruth, but may in actual fact have come from the junk yard. Scandalous.
However, those desperate to snap up a bit of history can still count on eBay, where The Capitalist has discovered some new memorabilia treasures commemorating the biggest financial fraud of all time.
Recommendations include a Bernie devil doll – complete with “commemorative” gold hammer to smash in his smug face – and, better, a porcelain wall urinal featuring Madoff’s face for the eminently reasonable price of $2,500. Plus, of course, the satisfaction of toiletary retribution must be priceless…
In zooms a missive from Japanese restaurant chain Ping Pong, which is peddling its good deed for the year in the form of a fundraising initiative in aid of the Crisis homeless charity.
Ping Pong Spitalfields is preparing “luxurious Christmas lunch packages” for next Monday, costing £150 including free delivery to City firms by the firm’s board directors on their bicycles (yes, really).
Perhaps the restaurant should make its neighbour F&C Asset Management its first stop-off, after the firm chose humble Ping Pong dim sum for its Christmas festivities this year in place of its usual trip to the Dorchester ballroom?