Where the City’s movers and shakers have their say. Today, it’s City A.M.’s editor Andy Silvester with the notebook pen.
Over the weekend I found myself discussing work with a pal, who for all his talents in his own world, remains somewhat distant from the world of finance. Somehow or other we got onto the subject of the latest short seller attack, this time by Glasshouse, on Soho House. After doing my best Margot Robbie in
The Big Short impression – using beer mats and a pint of Young’s Ordinary to explain short selling – my pal was distinctly nonplussed. In short, his argument was how can it be legal for a company that benefits from a firm getting in the shtuck to produce research and analysis with the express purpose of putting said firm in the shtuck?
At some point we got distracted by the rugby, but even if I had made the arguments about price discovery and liquidity in the market, I struggle to think they would have helped change my pal’s mind. To those not in our world, the whole idea just seems a very easy way to game the system.
That view appears to be gathering steam. South Korea, of course, temporarily banned short selling last year in its entirety, and will maintain a ban on naked shorts. In a different but not entirely dissimilar vein, Italy’s parliament recently passed a capital markets reform that will favour long-only investors – in practice, mostly domestic, family-owned giants. The Chinese are curbing short-selling, too.
Where does all this lead? It’s hard to see a UK or US government pushing ahead with any firm moves to prevent short selling; indeed the UK has recently ever-so-slightly tweaked disclosure rules to make life a little easier. But it’s not hard to see a reckoning coming, no matter the rational arguments.
Britain is crap at building major infrastructure, goes the prevailing logic, and it’s hard to disagree. One success story does stand out, though, and it’s deftly chronicled in Dave Hill’s Olympic Park: When Britain Built Something Big. Hill is one of the finest journalists London has and his tale of the building of the Stratford site somehow turns planning meetings into Clancy-esque cliffhangers. As a work of modern history writing, it’s hugely valuable as well as immensely readable, and I hope today’s politicians have it on their reading list.
Sports over shows
A business idea, for those looking to crack the streaming industry: sports coverage for people who actually like the sport, not the show.
It’s not her fault but the cutaways to Taylor Swift during the Super Bowl were insufferable; watching football coverage here in the UK can only be tolerated by muting the incessant whooping and hollering of the studio ‘pundits’ whose main job appears to be to go viral. Maybe I’m just getting old.
Here comes Tell Sid 2.0.
The Treasury’s sale of Natwest’s shares later this year will be accompanied by a punchy ad campaign and no doubt some renewed retail interest.
I can see the concerns of those who are worried that the sale risks triggering a raft of ‘unsophisticated’ investors moving into the market, and potentially getting burnt, but perhaps the government should trust the public with risk, rather than shield them from it.
Another day, another report of anti-semitic mob behaviour in London. This time, Jews were hounded out of a theatre after a comedian told them to “f*** off.” The most important book anyone can read this year is the same as last year: David Baddiel’s excoriation of modern liberals for their blindness to anti-semitism, Jews Don’t Count.