TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bill Radke: For the first time on record, London lost the top spot in a ranking of the world’s financial hubs. New York tied the British capital as the best place for banking and finance. That’s according to Global Financial Centers Index, a report compiled by a British consulting firm. With us live from London is Marketplace’s European bureau chief Stephen Beard. He must be feeling a bit of a bruised ego right now. Good morning, Stephen.
Stephen Beard: Yes indeed, Bill.
Radke: Our condolences. What is this report, Stephen? Is this like one of those magazines ranking the best places to live? Only, for investment bankers?
Beard: Yes, but a lot more besides. It’s the whole climate that they’re looking at, the whole climate for doing financial business in these centers. How attractive are they in terms of things like tax and regulation? This is taken pretty seriously here in London, though, because it’s thought to reflect the future level of business coming here.
Rob McIver of the Association of Financial Markets in Europe says this survey results is a “wake up call” for London.
Rob McIver: Well, it’s a bit of a jolt. I think it’s one we can’t afford to ignore in London. We’ve been very used to being the top dog financially for about the last 300 years. The world is changing and we have to make sure we change with it.
Radke: So, Stephen, why has London slipped?
Beard: It’s fears about tax and regulation. The survey was carried out shortly after the U.K. government raised the top rate of income tax to 50 percent and slapped a 50 percent tax on bankers’ bonuses. And there’s been a lot of general, sort of, banker bashing by the government here. More perhaps than in the U.S. However, there’s a possibility that New York could slip in the next survey, reflecting President Obama’s proposed curbs on certain banking activities. A spokesman for the city of London this morning said that we seem to be taking turns “shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Radke: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard over in London. Thanks, Stephen.
Beard: OK, Bill.
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