London protests: There goes the neighbourhood
Euromoney’s offices, near to St Paul’s Cathedral in London, acquired some new neighbours last month – the protest group OccupyLSX. Undeterred by the disruption to our lunchtime sandwich routine, Euromoney mingled with the crowd to get its take on the state of banking. Disparate views quickly became apparent in conversation with individuals at the camp. While one protester complained that the greatest problem of the financial system lay in bankers’ compensation, others had bigger fish to fry – most notably that the US government has been using the free electricity invented by Nikola Tesla to fire lightning bolts at Japan, triggering the Fukushima earthquake, apparently in protest at Japan’s economic policy.
The arrival of the camp has triggered the near-closure of Paternoster Square by its owner Mitsubishi Estates to protect the London Stock Exchange from the attentions of the protesters. Takings in some of the businesses in the square are reportedly down by 80% as a result. But sympathy from the protesters is likely to be in short supply. The principal restaurant on the site is the Paternoster Chop House, owned by D&D London – majority owned by Sir Terence Conran. The company posted ebitda of £8.3 million last year, so it is unlikely that Sir Terence will be reduced to living on the free porridge being doled out at the protest camp’s kitchen.
Another restaurant emailed customers assuring them that it was business as usual and a host would "walk you safely through" the square should you decide to book. This is puzzling, given that the square is almost deserted apart from large numbers of police standing around. As OccupyLSX declares in its statement of intent: This is what democracy looks like.