I enjoy reading AEP's pieces in the Daily Telegraph business because of his sense and knowledge of economic history. Today's piece is a classic. He retells the fall of Antwerp as the premier financial trading centre in the 1550s thanks to the Catholic monarchies of Spain & France unilaterally rescheduling their debts to the Antwerp merchants plus the persecution of the Portugese Jews who fled to Protestant Amsterdam which then reigned as the leading financial centre for the next 200 years until fear of what the French revolutionaries would do to them caused a flight to London and the rise to pre-eminence of the City.
So it has happened in the past and it will happen again. Persecution of talented minorities plus fear of draconian ideologically driven rules was the cause then and will be the cause of London's fall now. AEP's piece is entitled, "City in danger of falling victim to EU wiles and becoming another Antwerp". He cites the fall in Antwerp's population from 100000 in 1550 to 50000 in 1600 and points out it becomes hard to sell a house into a falling population!
We are now seeing the same thing in the EU persecution of hedge funds, 80% of which are in Mayfair. It is only the start. There will be further attacks on the City markets in bonds, currencies, commodities and insurance from the EU Commission. The credit crunch has given the bureaucrats their chance to implement their previously hidden agenda. Where will these funds go to? Well the nearest safe haven is Switzerland. The Swiss understand and love money and money men and make sure their country will cater to their needs. They have maintained their borders and neutrality for hundreds of years and done very well out of it. Even Adolf Hitler left them alone. And for why? Well the people at the top of every political system are rich. That's why most went into politics, to get rich. You then need a safe place to stash your loot. Electorates are notoriously fickle and you dont want the next lot to grab your ill-gotten gains so you park it in Switzerland. I would bet most MEPs and EU bureacrats have nice anonymous Swiss bank accounts.
Hedge funds do nasty things but like all predators they don't take on the healthy beasts, only those whose management is well past its sell by date and whose assets can be better used. That is why the EU predators are taking on the UK now. Gordon's government is the walking dead. The Tories and LibDems are ready to placate the EU in the finest traditions of the Tory party exemplified by Chamberlain in 1938. We need a pariah like Churchill was in 1938 with a long history of opposing the EU who will stand up for the UK and turn back the tide. For sure its not Nigel Farage but cometh the hour cometh the man. Many will not like it but the fault lies with the apologists and appeasers who have gone before.