The Notebook is a new addition to City A.M.’s daily offering, giving the City of London’s movers and shakers the chance to let a few things off their chest. In this first edition – it’s our editor, Andy Silvester, penning his thoughts.
ONE of the things that fascinated me as a child were ant farms – the way these tiny, unassuming creatures could create extraordinary social systems in great intricate detail, encompassing all the roles from mayor to architect to the hardy labourer.
What really amazed me though was how reliant the system was on each individual ant – without every single one pulling its weight, the whole ecosystem fell apart.
Fast forward a few decades and I find myself at the heart of another ecosystem – the City of London. And that’s what this new daily feature, the notebook, is about. What we all at City A.M. learnt during the pandemic was that the City’s fascinating dynamic needs each and every one of its bits to work – from the big banks to the sandwich shops, from the insurers to the pubs, from the CEO to the ‘elf and safety staff (yes, really).
In this space we’ll give the people who shape the City and today’s business world the chance to riff on whatever it is that’s interested them that week – whether it’s reflecting on a mega-deal that just got over the line or a landlord wondering whether it’s worth staying open on a Friday lunchtime.
This week we’ll have one author who is shaping investor reaction to the biggest business news and another running one of Britain’s most interesting podcasts – on the jobs of the future.
We’ll also hear from politicians, both blue and red and even occasionally yellow, who are making and re-making the City of London.
When City A.M. was founded – before the global financial crisis – it launched with the tagline ‘business with personality’. That tagline has changed over time but at its essence that’s what we want to give you, our readers, every day. Because it isn’t global forces or regulation or tech that shapes the City – it’s the people that live and work in it.
Got ideas for your own notebook? Ping me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEVOLUTION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION?
It was no surprise to see Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer both banging the drum for localism last week in their new year speeches, but one is entitled to wonder if their hearts are really in it. Politicians have always talked about devolving power – but they rarely give local mayors enough muscle to really get anything done. A truly radical government would give local leaders, including Sadiq Khan, more control over revenues – and more powers to spend them.
NEXT, ALWAYS NEXT
Three cheers for Lord Wolfson, the Next chief. He seems to have taken it upon himself to become the sole cheerleader for the value of high street retail, even as it seems the great British public are flocking back in numbers. This week he said the humble physical store is in better shape now than it has been for years.
Of course, he also means that the weaker players have already disappeared – the modest, hard-working to one of his now vanquished high street rivals, Philip Green.
ONE TO WATCH
Bernie Madoff, the aptly-named architect of what is surely the world’s largest ever Ponzi scheme, will live in infamy after his arrest in 2008. The new Netflix series – imaginatively titled Madoff – that covers his rise to the top of Wall Street provides some insight into the mind of the man, but more into the absolute cock-up the Securities and Exchange Commission made of pursuing him in the early days. The doc also focuses more than your average fraud drama on the victims of Madoff’s fraud – people who, eventually, lost everything. It’s compelling viewing – a real life Big Short in some ways – and well worth your time, even if some of the flashback mockumentary style acting is more garage trader than Wall Street grandee.
There have been many downsides to the new office environment, but the uptick in the number of lively dogs running around the City is most definitely a positive. One survey from Flexa said the number of jobseekers expressing a preference for a “dog-friendly office” had risen 60 per cent. Whether that’s true or not, I’m a big fan of a ten-minute cuddle with Fido to relieve the stress of a Square Mile