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Karina's Column

An insider’s view on the City of London and beyond

Posts in Financial
The lightweight vs the heavyweight

Getting to be a heavyweight boxing champion takes many years of training, a top coach and clear rules of engagement. Talent may well be the least of it.  

The UK is sadly bereft of all of these as it bravely makes its way in a world where the boxing ring is riven with cracks and the ropes are frayed and broken. Trade giants of the likes of Peter Sutherland and Pascal Lamy built the global trade structure brick by brick, compromise by comprise, backed most notably and most crucially by the US.

But President Donald Trump’s disdain for traditional allies and alliances extends to the World Trade Organisation and its carefully wrought rules, which are in any case due for modernisation in a services and digital centred world. The application of unilateral tariffs on China, leading to an exchange of tit-for-tat, is not the worst of it. Rather, it is taking the fight outside the ring, as Mr Trump did by pressuring Canada to arrest the CFO of Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant, or blackmailing Mexico with a progressive 5% tariff on exports if it did not do more to curb illegal immigrants from Central America.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week held out the exciting prospect of a trade deal with the US in 2020. Here are six home truths on global trade which he might wish to share with the nation.

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The world awaits you

My speech to London School of Economics graduates

This is an edited version of a graduation speech given at the London School of Economics in July 2019.


Good afternoon, Graduates of the London School of Economics and Political Science. It is your day, and your careers, and your new lives, which start today.


“I was at the LSE. I graduated from the LSE. I’m an LSE Alumnus.” Those words are like saying “Open Sesame.” For the world lies open to you. You will end up working for the Government of China, for NGOs, for PWC or Goldman Sachs or Google. You will be entrepreneurs, social impact investors, data scientists, academics, prime ministers and presidents…we would be here all day if I kept on going. 

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Vintage heaven; vintage hell

The transformation of Fine Wines

As you raise a glass of Chêne Bleu Rosé on a sizzling hot summer’s day, spare a thought for the wine industry, which is facing a perfect storm.

Global warming, increasing regulatory pressures, and disinvestment, are set to dent if not destroy what had seemed a simple story of emerging markets growth and increasing quality which would lead global wine consumption to reach $207bn in 2022.  

But the overall global wine and spirits market has slipped by -1.4% in the last five years, according to industry body IWSR, and disruption of the status quo is set to accelerate.  In the US, 54 per cent of the population chose to abstain from alcohol, driven largely by 21-34 year olds, according to a 2018 Nielsen Survey.

Parallels with the tobacco industry are not an exaggeration. Imagine a photograph of a liver riven by cirrhosis on a plainly packaged bottle of wine, along with a warning that alcohol can abet breast cancer. Inside, the magnum of Château Kirwan lies, un-drunk and unloved.

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How can the City recover its political capital?

The good news? The financial sector is no longer enemy number one. Its place has been taken by our fumbling politicians. The bad news? The City has not regained its political capital.

Post the financial crisis the City, meaning financial and professional services in the UK, lost the trust of the nation. A perfectly understandable and justifiable result, but one that must change because of the harm that is being done to our economy when the City has no advocates beyond its own members.

As the country grapples with Brexit, assembly lines of MPs appear on television defending the UK’s manufacturing base. Not one talks about the need to defend the City, despite it being responsible for over 13.5% of tax revenues – that’s a lot of hospitals, infrastructure and schools. It is also responsible for around 2.3m jobs – jobs that aren’t just in the Square Mile, or London and the South East, but also in Liverpool, Glasgow and Bournemouth.

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