There are, it is fair to say, many reasons to feel a tad disheartened at the minute. Yesterday’s record number of Omicron cases was hardly cheering. Neither is the sight of empty streets and shuttered businesses on a quick stroll around the City.
But, believe it or not, there are reasons to be cheerful. Plenty, in fact, as we look towards 2022.
The first is simply that we’ve come through this before. If the worst comes to the worst, we have shown – thrice, now – that lockdowns can disrupt and delay but not destroy.
It is inconceivable that further restrictions beyond where we are now could come without further, substantial financial relief.
But away from the new variant – and, in another reason to at least look forward with guarded optimism, it does appear to be milder – there are reasons to smile.
The City, whose demise was foretold both before and after the Brexit referendum, continues to thrive.
It has grown into a global hub for fintech and green finance, whilst holding on to the industries that have made the Square Mile into one of the world’s two leading financial centres.
Predictions of thousands of bankers being shipped off to Frankfurt – made, usually, by people who had not been to Frankfurt – have been shown to be nonsense.
Talented people still want to come here, and settle here, and are (mostly) able to. Dealmaking is alive and well. A burst of retail investors have made analysts more in demand than ever. And the speed with which the City and Canary Wharf have put money into thriving, developing industries like life sciences is heartening for our future prospects.
It seems odd to look back to the before times – when pandemics were the stuff of disaster movies, not our everyday reality.
But as the news turns sour over the coming days, and Christmas plans become more complicated, it’s worth remembering that London has come through worse than this before.