OWING on from The Capitalist’s coverage of the launch of The Gathering Storm – a compilation of essays by hedgies, with all proceeds going to charities chosen by the writers – the book’s august authors gathered yesterday for cucumber sandwiches and wine at the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation.
As the discussion galloped through topics including protectionism, Mongolia and how to extract shale gas, it couldn’t be long before the hedgies and bankers turned to regulator-bashing. Arbuthnot Securities’ James Ferguson was the first to take a stand: “My chapter,” he said, “is about how the regulator was an arse.”
But it was when Societe Generale’s über-bear strategist Albert Edwards took the floor that the floodgates opened. “The idiots at the central banks!” he snorted. “It makes me sick when I read what Mervyn King writes. He blames surplus savings from Asia. But we had excessively low interest rates. At least Portugal, Ireland and Spain were given the wrong interest rates – the US and the UK chose them.” And the tirade continued:
“Central banks are meant to take away the punch bowl. What Greenspan did at midnight when everyone wanted to go home is shove their heads in the punchbowl. It’s disgusting what we’ve seen.”
Edwards’ SocGen colleague Dylan Grice was also keen to join the Mervyn-flaying, adding: “The only people who don’t understand that they don’t understand what’s going on are the central bankers.”
Well, quite. If that’s not enough to whet your appetite for QE2, I don’t know what is.
Whispers in the small to mid-cap broking sector suggest that a deal between Evolution and Panmure Gordon is just a whisker away from being done. Evo’s chief executive Alex Snow – who has just over two weeks left to launch a bid after Panmure last week demanded that the Takeover Panel set a put-up-or-shut-up deadline – is said to be dead set on closing a deal with his rival…
The biggest names from the property industry are pulling together today for one of the largest ever charity days ever seen in the City – LandAid day, which hopes to raise £100,000 for the industry’s own charity, run by Grainger boss Robin Broadhurst and Helical Bar chief executive Mike Slade.
The property bigwigs are always keen to get into the spirit for a good cause – remember that fundraiser at Old Billingsgate Market a few months ago where they all dressed up as their favourite bands for a cabaret? – but they have excelled themselves this time. British Land, Hammerson, Land Securities, CBRE, Knight Frank, the Canary Wharf Group, and Prupim are embarking on a round of poker tournaments, home-baked cake sales, amateur band performances, an 18-storey abseil, dressing up and sporting competitions to raise money for the cause.
Old rivalries die hard in the City – and it was no different at this week’s tussle on the field between two rugby sides from the London Stock Exchange and the “Wine Trade”, which kicked off the annual tournament between warring factions of the financial community. LSE chief Xavier Rolet will be pleased to know that his side – boosted by brokers and traders from a range of firms like Icap, Tullett Prebon, JP Morgan Cazenove, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse – came up trumps in the game, winning 35 to 23 against the Berry Bros & Rudd-sponsored opposition.
After a lager-fuelled celebration, it’s back to training for the team, headed by new captain Mike Goodall. They’ve still got property experts from the RICS team, insurance workers from the Lloyd’s market and a team of lawyers to beat to the eventual trophy.
DOUBLE OR QUITS
Ex-chancellor Alistair Darling was in mischievous spirits earlier this week at a Spectator Business City breakfast.
“So what’s the difference between the Big Society and the Third Way?” barked one lady from the Chinese embassy, referring to the respective overreaching policy concepts coined by PM David Cameron and former Labour PM Tony Blair.
“There’s no difference at all,” quipped Darling, quick as a flash. “I don’t understand either of them.”
SOUND OF MUSIC
Finally, a tale to put us all to shame, courtesy of Slaughter & May’s multi-talented head of M&A Stephen Cooke. I hear Cooke has a rather unusual extra-curricular interest – namely, that he’s a bit of a whiz at composing music, and his scores have featured in several films, including award-winning documentaries produced by his wife. Quite how he manages to find the time to pursue his passion when working on some of the biggest deals in the City (Kraft/Cadbury, British Airways/Iberia and Cazenove/JP Morgan, to name but a few) is anyone’s guess.