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Food For Thoughts

  • “O, how full of briers is this working-day world!” Rosalind’s lament in Shakespeare’s As You Like It will no doubt strike a chord with many in the financial services world. The surfeit of regulation that has rained down on the industry shows no sign of relenting and banker bashing remains as popular as bear baiting was in the time of the Bard of Avon.
  • Robert Jenkins chose the venue and your columnist greedily accepted. Though not exactly on the bucket list, the thought of eating Reform Club chops in the place they were first served was enough of a draw. This meaty treat of lamb coated with breadcrumbs, parsley and chopped ham, was created by the club’s first chef, Alexis Soyer. He was the Gordon Ramsey of his day, without the expletives.
  • The week Martin Scheck and I met had not been a good one for capital markets. Newspapers were full of the chatroom banter of FX traders. If the consequences for the reputation of the City and the perception of OTC markets in general in the wake of the Libor scandal had not been so serious, these revelations, full of music hall mockney, would have been laughable. Sadly for these latter day Artful Dodgers, regulators around the world had been, “reviewing the situation”.
  • For anyone who works outside the rarefied world of financial markets, Markit might sound like something an errant tomcat gets up to. But after listing his company for $1.5bn on Nasdaq in June just eleven years after founding it in his garden, CEO Lance Uggla is unlikely to be suffering much angst about his choice of name.
  • Jealousy is a cardinal sin. But meeting David Harding roused the green-eyed monster. It’s not the money. If that were a catalyst for jealousy, writing Food for Thoughts would have consigned me to a padded cell many years ago. It is the heady cocktail of intellectual stimulation and vindication he must imbibe every day and the intoxicating gift it delivers: to be yourself and say exactly what you think.
  • When Reuters was the last big news organisation to leave Fleet Street in 2005, vacating the building now occupied by Lutyens, a service was held in nearby St Bride’s Church. Mutual convenience dictated the location of our lunch, but the irony was not lost on me as I made my way to the restaurant. It is all but impossible to imagine my guest Donald Brydon wallowing in the sentimentalism of hacks mourning the glory days of the Street of Shame. He has always looked forward.
  • In the 1970s the Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Solow compared central bankers to squid. He said that they “emit ink and move away”. One of his peers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the late Rüdiger Dornbusch, later observed that: “In economics things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you thought they could.”
  • Mildly discombobulating evenings down in Borough, occasionally involving the liquid assets of The Market Porter, are not unknown. But walking into Rabot 1745 was a true assault on the senses. On the ground floor of an impressively refurbished building, close to the moved railway linking London Bridge and Blackfriars, there sits a fully operational chocolate factory. A machine called a conche, first invented by Rodolphe Lindt, was turning roasted cocoa nibs into chocolate for the shop and restaurant.
  • with Robert Stheeman, chief executive officer, UK Debt Management Office
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