The aim of this book has been to present a long-term perspective on the City of London. Such a perspective is rare in economic analysis where the past is usually confined to the previous five years or, if longer, the comments made are by way of background rather than as an integral part of the explanation. Similarly, it is rare for an historian to comment on current events as there are no terminal vantage points from which to gain a perspective. However, intimate familiarity with the past does suggest numerous parallels which can provide insight into the present and guidance for the future. The era before the First World War, for instance, may appear very distant to current practitioners but the operation of the world economy and the ethos of freedom have more in common with the situation today than the more immediate past, characterised as it has been by exchange controls, government intervention and restrictive practices. Anthony Harris, writing in the Financial Times in December 1989, was of the opinion that: ‘Far too much past analysis has been based on a lost world of fixed exchange rates, a small international trade sector, and regulated capital flows.’1 As a result policy prescriptions seem to have more to do with recreating this lost world than accepting the reality of the new set of circumstances and planning accordingly.
KeywordsWorld Economy Financial Centre Restrictive Practice Transferable Asset Foreign Financial Institution
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