June 2021 – Alpha, Beta and Delta

June saw the return of Covid in a big way for London and the UK.

While in much of Europe/USA, a covid case is now a rarity, in the UK case numbers are up dramatically – 20-fold in my part of London for instance (see graph below). The Delta variant now accounts for >90% of the cases and, wow, does it spread easily. Other countries, notably Australia, will almost certainly have some of this to come – but you hear it from London first.

Cases reported in my area by the Zoe app

The UK is aiming to outrun the Delta variant by vaccinating. The complication with this plan is that you need two jabs to have even a hope of avoiding Delta, and if you have AstraZeneca than your hope is only a 60% hope even with 2 jabs. A virus with an underlying reproductive factor of 8 laughs at protection of only 60% – reducing 8 by 60% leaves the Delta variant with the same reproductive ratio as the original Covid-19 variant.

Continue reading “June 2021 – Alpha, Beta and Delta”

Whither London?

I feel as if there is a crescendo of doom-mongering about London.

Some of the most expensive footfall in the world

Most notable for me was a piece a week or two ago by Simon Kuper in the FT. Kuper argues that three things threaten to diminish London, risking it following Vienna and Constantinople into decline:

  • Covid-19. Covid means lockdown. And lockdown means working from home. Kuper argues that “though working from home threatens all cities, it disproportionately threatens London”.
  • Brexit. The “UK-EU trade deal does little for London”. In the first week of the Brexit new world, apparently €6bn a day of stock trading moved from the UK into the eurozone, which alone could be worth has much as £20bn a year of lost revenues (a quarter of the UK’s services trade surplus). I hear rumours that Goldman Sachs is yet to move 2000 roles from the UK into the EU. That is a lot of tax that won’t be paid to HMRC, and fancy dinners no longer being enjoyed in the West End.
  • The role of English. Kuper argues that “a decade ago there was no obvious European substitute for London. Now, cities like Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam have become quasi-bilingual business hubs.”

Kuper cites house price data as suggesting that “local rivals are eating into London’s supremacy”: London’s prices have fallen (in international terms) since 2016, whereas Parisian prices are up about 25%. More money is going into Paris’ office space than London’s in 2019, the year before the pandemic.

Continue reading “Whither London?”

Salaries in London: real life examples

I wrote a post some months ago about how London now requires £500k of income a year – at least according to some high-achieving friends of mine, based on the privileged way they live their lives.  They are one per centers who deserve their success but they do identify with ‘the squeezed middle’. But given the interest in that post I thought it worth discussing exactly what sorts of careers earn how much in London right now.

Obviously I don’t have full knowledge of every Londoner’s personal finances.  I do however help hire (and occasionally fire) people in London’s private sector on a frequent basis, and have experience of this in large companies and small.  This gives me some useful data points. I’m sure there are myriad exceptions to my general rules, but here goes anyway. I would summarise London’s current pay strata as follows: Continue reading “Salaries in London: real life examples”