TUX-CLAD SOLICITORS FLOCK TO FISH MARKET

HUNDREDS of lawyers gave their well-worn tuxedos another outing last night as they gathered for the British Legal Awards hosted by Legal Week, with the barristers characteristically out-dressing the solicitors.

Catching City of London law society chair Bill Knight sharing a drink with Norton Rose’s Sir David Lewis before the evening kicked off, The Capitalist inquired as to what Lewis was in the running for. “He’s too old to run!” quipped Knight cheerily over his champagne flute.

It wasn’t long before the lawyers were treated to a strident round of songs by 2008 X Factor finalist Ruth Lorenzo, whose lycra jumpsuit certainly raised eyebrows before the legal brains filling the room turned from the stage to the screen of their blackberries.

But as comedian Jack Dee took the floor, the lawyers looked up. “This was of course London’s first fish market,” Dee said of the Old Billingsgate venue. “Lots of cold, slippery slimy creatures… why here for the British legal awards?”

As donation envelopes were passed around in favour of Changing Faces, a charity for disfigured people, and other envelopes were cracked open to dole out prizes to the lucky few, the audience made steady progress through the wine bottles. Who says lawyers don’t know how to let their hair down?

RUSSIAN PRIDE

At least someone in the City was celebrating the Russian victory in the World Cup stakes yesterday. Quick off the mark, Renaissance Asset Management’s chief investment officer Plamen Monovski was keen not to underplay the event: “This is big, very big,” he announced. “It will unleash one of the largest spending on infrastructure the world will see in the next five years. Roads, bridges, rail, airports, ports and sports facilities will be brought to world-class standards.”

The Capitalist hopes so: at present, less than half of the country’s airport runways are even paved, and more than that don’t have lights for night-time landings.

But Monovski is always one to see opportunities where others see risk: “The public relations benefits will be large,” he forecasts.

Capital Spreads’ Simon Denham, however, isn’t so sure of the benefits: “Building a huge number of massive stadia which will have limited post-Cup application seems a curious use of funds for Russia. But then who are the UK to comment on this? We are spending more money on a two-week Olympic jamboree than has been raised by the sale of every single school sports ground over the last three decades put together.”

Better enjoy the jamboree – it’s the only one we’re getting!

EASY STREET SAFARI

Pimco MD Bill Gross struck a musical note in his latest note to investors, but it was hardly a cheery one: “We’re all Allentowners now,” he wrote, quoting the Bill Joel classic: “Well we’re living here in Allentown/And they’re closing all the factories down.”

As for US policy, he’s not hopeful, declaring that it is careering down “Easy Street” in pursuit of “political and financial chicanery: trade and immigration barriers, currency devaluation and military domination of foreign oil-producing nations”.

A grim picture and he’s not even sure that emerging market demand can sway the balance: “Their financial systems are still maturing and reminiscent of a spindly-legged baby giraffe, having lots of upward potential, but still striving for balance.”

But with metaphors like that, who needs monetary policy?