April, 2009

Apr 09

Tax & Treasury, Gladiators and Queen Zenobia

If my husband were alive today we would be moving to Hong Kong or Singapore. The welcome mat for skills is still out in (more exciting) Asia. Or, for that matter, in Switzerland. As it is, I am in London, working with a financial industry that is hated, in a country where top rate tax payers will pay a rate over 50 per cent.

But that number, as was pointed out to me by a hedge fund CEO at a dinner party last week, does not take into account VAT, stamp duty, petrol tax and the myriad of other ways the Government gathers its funds. The annual percentage take from the six people gathered in that room was going to come to between 63 per cent and 75 per cent depending on whether moving house was part of the equation.


Apr 09

Teenage fans mob Stock Exchange chief

When you are 49 year old financial executive, it is rare that 15-year old schoolgirls scream with excitement at your arrival. But that was the lucky fate of Xavier Rolet, the CEO-designate of the London Stock Exchange, when he was in Argentina earlier this year participating in the Paris-Dakhar rally.

I am not 15, nor did I scream when I first met Rolet on May 31 at a think tank weekend hosted by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. We spoke, rather less thrillingly, about whether the “financial surprises” were over.

On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the largest in US history. Rolet, head of the American bank’s substantial holdings in France, spent the rest of the year dealing with the aftermath and is justly proud that jobs were found for nearly all the staff.

Apr 09

Bertie Woosters beware!

In this blog: Aunt Agatha, Mervyn King, Hector Sants, John Varley
I was recently compared to Aunt Agatha, a character from the PG Wodehouse series, who makes her ne’er do well nephew, Bertie Wooster, quake with fear of her disapproval (some good examples here)  I don’t quite buy the comparison, being all of five feet and two inches and rather amiable.

However this did get me musing on who has Aunt Agatha powers these days. Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, has it, demonstrated by his reining in of Chancellor Gordon Brown’s spending plans via a simple sentence in a speech.