What a delightful sight it is to see a busy London train station on our front page today. The world is, slowly, coming back to a new normal. As we wrote yesterday, there is no question the world has changed – and smart employers will have to respond to new expectations. But there is still a joy to being together, again, in one place with colleagues. We have been here before, of course, but this time we are starting to hope that the worst might just be behind us.
So it’s an opportune day to celebrate a piece of research putting London at the very top of the global financial tree. On access to talent, digital infrastructure, the rule of law, and the sheer amount of capital here, the Capital still owns a series of extremely health advantages over any of its competitors bar New York and Singapore. As was remarked in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, the only people predicting bankers would move to Frankfurt… hadn’t actually been to Frankfurt.
Indeed the capital’s advantages grow. We house world-leading firms in fintech and green finance. The FCA remains, whilst imperfect, a regulator that allows innovation to prosper. Apart from anything else, it’s still a wonderful place to live.
Contrast that with a city that once sat alongside London and New York at the top of any ranking – Hong Kong.
It is wrong to suggest that British rule of Hong Kong was some kind of panacea. Hongkongers didn’t have too much of a say in how things were run even when Westminster was nominally in charge. But contrast to today – hell, contrast to just give years ago – and it is clear that Hong Kong is going through a very dark period in its history. Crackdowns on free speech, on the right to vote, on protests speak ill of the Chinese Government.
It will rebound in time, of course. Hong Kong will outlast the Chinese Communist Party. No totalitarian dictatorship has lasted, and this will not be the first. Let us hope the city’s spirit is not crushed before it can.