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East London’s Post-Olympic Economy


The hosting of the Olympics affirmed to the world London’s emergence from the domestic and international recession that coincided with the years of preparation for the event. Post-Olympics, London has sustained its position as a leading world city. A compelling official view has identified the ‘Olympic effect’ as a major contributor to maintaining its global status. Domestically, undoubtedly, there has been a significant ‘Olympic effect’ in East London. In this chapter, Poynter argues that the post-2012 social and economic transformation of the city’s east side is being shaped less by the official narrative that informed the legacy promises of successive governments and more by London’s unique role in a highly financialised global economy.

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  1. 1.

    In 2013, the Office for National Statistics reported that employment in Canary Wharf had vastly expanded in the preceding decade, rising nearly fourfold from to 27,000 to 100,000 (ONS, 2013). And in her commentary on the ONS report, the Financial Times’ Kate Allen reported that ‘Last year, the number of bankers employed in Canary Wharf officially overtook the number employed in the City of London, making it the biggest employer of bankers in Europe. FT research shows that the 16 biggest banks in the UK employ 44,500 in Canary Wharf, compared with 43,300 in the Square Mile’ (Allen, 2013).

  2. 2.

    For example, a report produced by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD, 2012) in autumn 2012 on the volatility of oil and commodity prices argued that ‘with the volumes of exchange-traded derivatives on commodity markets now being 20 to 30 times larger than physical production, the influence of financial markets has systematically transformed these real markets into financial markets’.

  3. 3.

    It is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss this process in detail. For insights into the structural problems in the UK economy that provided the conditions for the financialisation of the UK economy see, for example Turner (2009). For a conceptual analysis of financialisation arising from the melding of industrial and finance capital, see Epstein (2005) and Lapavitsas (2013).

  4. 4.

    In such an economy, the central bank’s role becomes increasingly important, with financial markets being highly sensitive to any pronouncements on or changes in the direction of monetary policy.

  5. 5.

    GVA is an estimate of the value created by a unit of production. It may be measured in different ways – production, income, expenditure; see:

  6. 6.

    For a detailed discussion of these developments see Poynter (2016).

  7. 7.

    Trobor Capital a UK located investment company, published a report on ‘London Real Estate’ in September 2014 (Trobor Capital, 2014). The report provides insights into the property investment operations of international companies and their significant interest in London’s prime and mainstream residential property markets. The report noted the significant level of new builds being purchased by overseas buyers: ‘Currently about 51% of the real estate purchasers in prime central London are from the United Kingdom. Of the 49% of international buyers, 16.5% of them are from other European countries. The next largest percentage of international buyers is Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States at about 9.1%. After that is the Middle East with approximately 7.5% of the international residential real estate purchases in London. However, not all of these purchases indicate residence. The actual amount of foreigners who reside in London is about 28% of the total residents. Research done by the Knight Frank Residential Research has shown that about 69% of the purchases of newly-built homes in London are international in nature, leaving just 31% for natives of the United Kingdom’. (Trobor Capital, 2014)


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Correspondence to Gavin Poynter .

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Poynter, G. (2017). East London’s Post-Olympic Economy. In: Cohen, P., Watt, P. (eds) London 2012 and the Post-Olympics City. Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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