Category Archives: Broad Street Ward

“Bright Lights, Open Minds, Robust Community”

British Red Cross Christmas Market @ Guildhall, 27 & 28 November 2017

Every other year the City of London hosts the British Red Cross Christmas Market at Guildhall. For 2017, the Guildhall Christmas Market will take place on Monday & Tuesday, 27 & 28 November.  Monday is a gala preview evening with a Royal visit.  It costs £40.  The market is open to the public Tuesday from 10.30 to 20:00pm. Tickets are just £5 and include a complimentary glass of wine.

This unmissable shopping experience will feature over 100 retailers, live music, and fun events. Be sure to pop into the indoor food market, outdoor German market, affordable art market, designer pop-up shop with unrivalled discounts, plus food and drinks workshops and tasting sessions.

This year it’s Elisabeth and my turn to co-chair the event.  We are actively looking for sponsors of all kinds, and the sponsorship package ideas are here – Christmas Market 2017 – sponsorship.  For example, you can:

  • be a Headline Sponsor (great association for large corporates), a Royal Reception Sponsor, a drinks sponsor, a Weihnachtsmarkt Sponsor (great for German or Austrian firms), a Foodiefest Sponsor (for catering and related trades);
  • donate an ‘experience’ such as a tour or work experience, or objects of value to the Silent Auction;
  • donate art to the Affordable Art Market;
  • or give a donation to help the British Red Cross.

BRC Christmas Market 2017

 

Whether you need to do your Christmas shopping, fancy enjoying a gluhwein or want find a designer bargain, make sure you visit this exciting Christmas Market, based in the heart of the City of London.  A Weihnachts Market in Guildhall Yard will also be open to spectators during the evening, where they can witness a spectacular demonstration from the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers.BRC photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Information

Date: 27 November 2017 to 28 November 2017

Preview Evening: 27 November 2017: £40 (Includes re-entry on 28 November)

Public day: 28 November 2017: £5 (Entry is free after 5pm)

Add ons on the Public day:

2 course set Christmas Lunch 12.00 – 2.30 £20

Champagne afternoon tea 3.30 – 5.30 £20

Workshops £5 entry on the day

Tickets will go on sale from September 2017 

Address: Guildhall, Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HH

Contact: Laura Deacon

Telephone: 0207 877 7606

Email: ldeacon@redcross.org.uk

Hartley? Hartley? Who The Heck Is Hartley?

I was delighted to be asked to give a ‘vote of thanks’ to my dear friend Archie Galloway, a former Common Councilman for Broad Street Ward:

“David Hartley – Arsonist By Appointment”

Vote Of Thanks To Historian Archie Galloway

Guildhall Historical Association, Guildhall, Monday, 9 January 2017

Chairman, fellow historians,

To paraphrase Historian Galloway, the first time I heard of David Hartley (1732 – 1813), aka David Hartley the Younger to distinguish him from his famous father, was when I got an email last week asking me to give this vote of thanks.  We’ll come to Archie’s record on introducing me to the unexpected later.  Archie read out Hartley’s obituary that concludes, “Hartley was, if not one of those who made history, at least was in singularly close touch with the stirring events of a most eventful period.”  I think that obituary is slightly unfair, for while he may not have played on the very highest levels of the political or scientific fields, Hartley certainly followed his friend Franklin’s advice, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing”, by doing both well at his own level.david-hartley-english-diplomat-humanities-social-sciences-librarynew-york-public-library

Sir John Stuttard at our last meeting pointed out the contributions of Alderman William Beckford supporting John Wilkes and, in turn, the American colonies.  Archie points to the even deeper support, nay friendship, that David Hartley had with Benjamin Franklin.  As part American, while aware of Franklin’s imperfections, I ‘revere’ (no, not Paul Revere) that immense polymath and politician, and envy Hartley his warm relationship.  Over the weekend I had some time to browse some of the copious correspondence between the two men, and it was clearly a deep friendship that sustained itself through a bitter conflict.

To discuss Hartley seems prescient scheduling as today’s news is dominated by the nature of the special relationship between our two nations and foreign influence on American politics [Trump and Russian influence].  Even more unexpectedly, my morning was spent trying to help a new fire company producing a novel fire suppressant additive, of which Hartley would approve.  Given the state of politics today it is tempting to emulate Hartley and offer all politicians a breakfast upstairs while perhaps turning off the safety equipment.

Archie mentions John Jay in passing.  John Jay (1745 – 1829) was an American statesman, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, also a signatory of the Treaty of Paris, and appointed by George Washington as first Chief Justice of the United States.  Jay was yet another in the anti-slavery movement which seems, as much as representation and taxation, to define the interactions of the transatlantic relationships at the turn of the end of the 18th century.  Alongside Hamilton and Madison, Jay was one of The Federalist Papers triumvirate.  While Jay wrote only four of the 85 papers, they were those “Concerning Dangers from Foreign Force and Influence”, issues that seem to have become more pressing of late.  In a letter to Franklin, Jay looked back to the Treaty of Paris negotiations, recalling, “We worked in strange but successful concert. We had in common, I think, good will and good sense.”1  I wonder how much of this common concert was engendered by sharing common values on important issues such as slavery, free trade, and the rights of men.

I promised a word about Archie and the unexpected.  Without Archie I wouldn’t be standing here today.  He converted me to the social side of Broad Street and the Ward Club.  Then he encouraged me to become a Gresham Professor.  I might note that Franklin was a Royal Society member and thus also involved with Gresham College in those days, as was probably Hartley and certainly Hartley’s father.  Without Archie’s encouragement I certainly wouldn’t have stood for Alderman, and thus not have become a member of this esteemed Association.

Just as Archie bumped into the Conservators’ Chairman on Putney Heath, he bumped into me one day in 2007.  As many of you know, my wife Elisabeth and I own a 1923 Thames Sailing Barge, Lady Daphne.  The managers of London Bridge City Pier removed the water supply one day ten years ago leaving us parched along the river.  Their reason?  In an echo of Hartley, the hosepipe connection was a fire hazard.  As he did on Putney Heath, Archie took up our cause.  He fought the health & safety lunacy and restored the supply.  Finally, I might note my surprise returning home one night across Tower Bridge to see that my friend also has his monument.  His name is engraved on the 1994 Centenary Plaque on the south east tower of the bridge.

Now, as historians, many of you will note the closing of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which sadly made both the crack-inclined Liberty Bell and the Economist’s 2016 Christmas obituary.  I have brought along one of their hand chimes to toll the end of this vote of thanks, not least because I certainly don’t want to obtain a Hartley-esque reputation that my “rising always operates as a dinner bell”.

I think you’ll agree that both David Hartley and Archie Galloway have obeyed Franklin twice over.  Both write things worth reading and do things worth writing.

[CHIME]

May I ask you to join me in thanking Historian Archie Galloway and may I please propose: “That the paper be printed and circulated, and be made available for publication at a later date”.  Thank you.

Surging Financial Crime In A Digitised World – Can We Turn The Tide?

Some remarks made before the CityForum Strategy Round Table on 3 November 2016 at the Guildhall.  Just before the publication of this ENISA report to which we contributed:

enisa-cover

“May I offer a warm welcome on behalf of the City of London Corporation.  We are delighted to be hosting you today here in the heart of the City.

The growth of cyber-related businesses – and indeed the tech and digital economy in general – is of great importance to the City of London Corporation.  As we move more towards a more a digitally enhanced economy in the City of London, especially in light of the challenge we now face to our more traditional financial services offer by way of the political challenges that are ongoing.  The growth of new industries such as fintech and cyber enhance the role of the City of London as a world-class centre for business and professional expertise and services.

The City of London – both large institutions and small businesses  – are subject not only to political or economic challenges but also technological ones.  And whilst the level of expertise around cyber in our banks may be developed, there are always individuals – or even individual states – looking to undermine our dominance as a global hub.

Later today, my colleague Mark Boleat will address this gathering on the importance of international partnerships and how we can work together to meet those challenges.  We have made great strides in securing international partnerships to foster shared intelligence and prosperity in this space – and we are grateful to have Cyrus Vance joining us later, and we are grateful for his continued support for initiatives such as the Global Cyber Alliance.

But we also believe that there is an exciting ocyberpportunity here to harness the burgeoning tech expertise in the UK.  Our dominance of our more traditional financial services markets, markets which provide amazing access to both finance and services, talent and data, could enable us to create something new and secure not only for our digital way of life, but increase our general economic prosperity too.  We have in the past discussed the important role that insurance and reinsurance can play in making this risk ‘normal’.

And of course – that knowledge and expertise here in the City also includes our own Police force – the national lead for economic crime – and we are  fortunate to have them join us today as well, and to have the Commissioner, Ian Dyson, speaking.  Only by working in partnership with our Police and security forces can we begin to build a prosperous City which is secure, confident in its own abilities, and ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century. cyber_cover

There is a saying that “the opposite of danger is taking risks”.  In the cyber space I believe that is truer than ever, and I hope that today’s conference suggests some of the technical and financial risks we need to take, from using distributed ledgers and blockchains for added, rather than reduced, security, or a Cyber Re, similar to Pool Re, for national resilience.

Thank you.”

Plebicide Or Silver Lining?

EU Referendum – Strategy Thoughts

À La Recherche Du Temps Trouvé

For many months we have been discussing the EU Referendum.  Since 24 June we have been discussing even more fervently the result, to “Leave”.  To get the obvious question out of the way, yes I voted “Remain”, though recognising the need for EU reform, which still stands.  Now, our old positions so obviously need to be put behind us.  We all recognise the need to work together with others, going forward to create our common wealth rather than dwell on pre-Referendum days.  Personally, I turn to the question, “What Did You Do In The Brexit Daddy (or Granddaddy)?”

Since 24 June, the magnitude of change that the result may have unleashed is only beginning to dawn upon us.  The EU Referendum appeared to hinge around three core issues – sovereignty, economics, and immigration.  The ramifications of the result have destabilised the established UK political parties and perhaps the system, caused financial turmoil worldwide, and encouraged further changes across Europe.  But where there is change there is opportunity.

The opportunity to make major realignments in sovereignty, economics, and inclusion are real and potentially very positive.  We have the opportunity to consider significant improvements in the structure of government, taxation, regulation, immigration and visas, infrastructure, international relations, and much more.  It is heady, and perhaps dangerous, and an opportunity to improve things that rarely passes by.

This letter to The Economist on 9 July is funny, and I’m sure self-aware:

A new entry for the Oxford English Dictionary:

Plebicide n. the self-inflicted ruin of a nation’s prospects or interests via a reckless act of direct democracy.

BRUCE STEEDMAN
St Helier, Jersey

Plebicide

‘Unity and Trade’

The City of London may have an important role in helping to unite the nation, and unite the nation with the world.  If we want to take bolder steps, we could create a more prosperous future for all.  We also need to replenish our reserves of goodwill.  I might emphasise two points for us, ‘unity’ and ‘trade’.  The nation needs to be seen abroad as open, tolerant, and tolerably united.  That unity may mean pointing harder to the City of London’s millennium-old role in forming new businesses and trade, rather than its recent (and in my opinion, inaccurate and unfair) association with a UK bank oligopoly.  Any nation that wishes to prosper must trade from an open and competitive environment.  Competition means that the state sector needs to be modest (taxation under control), that education is paramount, and that cartels, barriers-to-entry, information asymmetries, and agency problems are avoided.  Trade is the gateway to reaping the economic benefits of specialisation and comparative advantage.  What would constitute some bold steps? I thought I might note a few below.

Immediate

It has been disappointing to see how slowly so-called ‘leaders’ have come forward to recognise that EU nationals are valued members of the national community.  There have been some honourable exceptions, most notably the Mayor of London.  It has been heart-breaking to see the scale of hate-crimes the result has encouraged.  Things we could consider doing:

  • provide a clear statement of how much we value the EU nationals who are members of our community. We could back that up by being more public about encouraging them to apply for the Freedom of the City, noting how welcome they are.  We could encourage the government to make a clear ‘for life’ visa statement on resident EU nationals;
  • provide a clear statement to firms of our (City) goals in any negotiations;
  • work hard to get a pan-party delegation to negotiate – http://www.theirishstory.com/2011/12/06/today-in-irish-history-6-december-1921-the-anglo-irish-treaty-is-signed/#.V3jVL7grLGg – so that the end of negotiations is the end and not the beginning of a rejection of any compromises;
  • work hard to assemble a business delegation supporting the pan-party delegation.

Sovereignty

The Guildhall Heritage Gallery currently displays a letter from John Hancock to John Wilkes, Lord Mayor from 1774-1775, that reminds us that the City of London has traditionally played a role in using its sovereignty to advance wider causes, often to the great long-term benefit of all.  Things we could consider doing:

  • connect harder and faster with the Commonwealth using our connections with the Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council and Baroness Scotland – should the UK make a more material contribution to the Commonwealth budget (reminder, circa just £46 million annually for the entire budget not the UK’s contribution – less than the not-so-faithfully represented £50 million per day to the EU) – make the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2018, and the run-up ahead of time, ten times the scale of the one in Malta last autumn;
  • work harder and faster with the UN on things such as the Sustainable Development Goals via the Business & Sustainable Development Commission;
  • connect with the forgotten – Alderney, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Sark, the Overseas Territories who are truly confused – connect with the nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;
  • use our convening powers – perhaps a banquet for some of the segments above, or a special dinner for world trade, or European financial services;
  • perhaps we could even be assertive and play a direct role in the re-regulation of financial services, supporting the return of voluntary standards markets. Could the City sponsor a new financial services regulator for global voluntary standards markets in areas like KYC/AML/Sanction or professionalism working alongside the prudential and compliance arms?

Economics

It’s not scare-mongering, it’s real – we will lose some significant financial services business to other European centres.  Our core problem is now how we’re going to attract new business.  As Z/Yen compiles the Global Financial Centres Index, from our relationships with other financial centres I know that several to many have been in London selling their jurisdiction to firms who need to leave – “just too many moving parts” one US firm said to me.  Things we could consider doing:

  • picking a European financial centre that we think is City of London friendly (Dublin, Amsterdam, Vienna, Hamburg, Milan?) and working with it for the smooth transition of businesses, assisting them with ‘brass plating’ (perhaps using Crown Dependency access too) so that only HQs need move, and at some point some smooth transitions back, mostly from one or two places;
  • tax – our Achilles heel going forward as it is the basis of the money-laundering allegations and increases the complexity of current regulations. A radical move towards a UK land value tax (a GLA interest as well) and a consumption tax (now possible as the VAT regime is moving to a UK VAT regime) could mean the abolition of corporation tax (more realistically setting it at 0%), the removal of income tax, a streamlining of the benefits system (see identity below), perhaps even with immigration control the introduction of a universal minimum income that could work.  Bold statements on tariffs, i.e. zero, could establish London as the global trade centre (interestingly, in 1960 Hong Kong’s GDP/capita was US$429, equal to Jamaica and below Turkey, Greece, Israel, and many others – with effectively a nil corporation tax);
  • to prevent further losses of information and finance businesses, sign up to be the gold standard General Data Protection Regulation despite being outside the EU – analogous to the Maltese strategy of being the first on compliance with EU financial regulation;
  • implement the ‘Open Data’ policies forcefully to create business and a more open trade culture;
  • consider a ‘financial services free trade zone’ for London or parts of London and the UK;
  • develop further the City of London’s UK SME work even wider is sectors such as media, film, shipping, health, or biotech;
  • perhaps be bold and reach out with suggestions (though some months hence) of recreating the Common Market afresh alongside EEA;
  • perhaps be bold and reach out to join other regional trade bodies directly, TTIP, TTP, Mercosur with some unilateral guarantees, e.g. “no tariffs, ever”, etc.;
  • consider tactical moves such as encouraging the old P&I Mutuals (Protection & Indemnity) to return to the UK by reversing the early 1990’s capital regulations;
  • on being ‘green’, issue Environmental Policy Performance Bonds;
  • on financial stability, implement Confidence Accounting;
  • on infrastructure, sure Heathrow, now why not Gatwick too, and any other private entity that wants to take risks on infrastructure for future reward;
  • turn the Intellectual Property Office into one with teeth:
We Need To Reinvent The Patent Process Michael Mainelli 2014 Wired, Condé Nast Publications (October 2014), pages 74-75.

Inclusion

As an immigrant myself several times over, I feel this is the hardest area.  The spirit of the 2012 Olympics was that London was the world’s city, the heart of the global community.  Our focus here should be on simplicity and speed.  Things we could consider doing:

  • become the global centre for work on the global identity problem;[1]
  • encourage the government to be bolder and go visa-less where possible, go electronic everywhere – a global financial centres needs global cosmopolitan people – and consider a ‘London Financial Services’ visa;
  • encourage the government to emulate immediately leading jurisdictions with proper electronic identity systems, Estonia being foremost, i.e. based on mutual distributed ledger (aka blockchain) technology (if you wish to see such a system on my mobile, built with PwC, just ask). Such a system could be more aggressive programme for Gov.UK Verify and:
    • help ‘prove’ that immigration and visa targets are under control;
    • cut $3bn to $5bn from know-your-customer, anti-money-laundering, and ultimate-beneficial-ownership processes in banking, insurance, and investment management, thus making London more competitive rapidly in financial services;
    • having our regulators take the KYC/AML suggestions further, i.e. surcharge those who are non-digital and use paper;
    • setting a stiff national KYC/AML target, e.g. an account opened within three days or a valid reason given;
    • create new global identity businesses in London;
  • establish a tradable route to immigration, i.e. a firm can swap one national for a UK national elsewhere in the world;
  • get a clear message on university students coming to the UK out quickly – perhaps reverse the decision of a while back and allow students to stay for up to two years after a ‘proper’ graduation;
  • guarantee university places to overseas students with an insurance guarantee to cover courses being pulled or visa problems, thus enhancing the UK higher education brand.

Conclusion

The idea of listing the above ideas is not to bring chaos into disorder.  I would hope that some of the above thoughts spark further thinking.  I recognise that it is a long walk from a set of thoughts, to good ideas, to implementing just a few well.  But we do have a heck of an opportunity to implement perhaps some special few and perhaps explain to our children and grandchildren that we did do something for City and Country in the great EU transformation.  Anyway, “let’s be optimistic, pessimism is for better times”.

[1]  About 2.4 billion people worldwide lack official identification, about 1.5 billion over the age of 14.  While they certainly know who they are, they are excluded from market economy property ownership, and frequently free movement, social protection, and empowerment.  They cannot ‘prove’ their existence to the satisfaction of society’s registries.  Lack of official identification increases remittance costs, corruption, and crime.  Insightfully, United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 “Peace, Justice And Strong Institutions” contains target 16.9 to “provide legal identity to all, including birth registration, by 2030”. See also Z/Yen’s work on IDchainZ.

Staying In EUr Relationship Is Hard Work – With Or Outwith The UK

Published: Thursday, 23 June 2016 10:53
Long Finance Blog – The Pamphleteers

Hopefully, Thursday, 23 June 2016 is a quiet, slow news day with everyone at the polls. Regular readers know that Pamphleteers is about the long-term. We have published only a little on the EU Referendum. I thought I’d exhibit some courage and try to write a long-term post for today with the referendum result pending and uncertain.

EU images

To remind those of you reading this from the future, on 23 June 2016 the UK voted on the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, asking the electorate – “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” It has been a noisy, acrimonious, and vacuous campaign by both sides. Many voters, myself included, resent having to vote on what was, initially, an internal Conservative party problem due to poor strategy, poor leadership, and poor discipline. The Conservatives are split one from the other in almost two separate parties. Labour’s leadership is split from Labour’s membership. Many things have been said that cannot be unsaid. And with referenda (yes, I’m grammatically stubborn here) now so easily called I fear another one coming, perhaps on a vital subject with no proximate cause, “shall we drive on the right instead of the left?”.

Obviously the big decision will be to ‘leave’ or ‘remain’. But the implications of ‘to leave’ or ‘to remain’ hinge on how large the leave or remain margins are, turnout percentages, on the various splits between the four nations (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, England) and the political parties, as well as on the extent of clear divisions by age, gender, ethnicity, urban versus rural, education levels, and London & the Southeast (themselves perhaps divided with central London versus the Home Counties or central London versus suburbs) versus the rest of the country. Whew. Lots of analysis and different interpretations coming. And lots more UK politics.

I have had the opportunity to travel widely around Europe on work much more than usual during the course of the campaign. Outside the UK, there are also things to do. Other Europeans are hurt. They don’t understand why the UK had this referendum, at this time. In rebuilding any relationship one should:

· Acknowledge that trust was broken.

· Admit your role.

· Apologise for how you acted and what happened.

· Appraise where you particularly broke trust and how you can be more connected, committed, and dependable.

· Amend and plan ahead.

Acknowledge, Admit, Apologise, Appraise – the UK needs to walk round the EU and do these things, whether in or out. If ‘in’, then it would be nice to walk round with the hands of supportive partners, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, … there are many countries who earnestly want to partner.

And what might “amend and plan ahead” contain?

1 – In the UK, commit to EU reform. When a light bulb burns out, you don’t buy a new house, you fix the light bulb. UK political parties should write specific EU reforms into their manifestos.

2 – Around Europe, remove direct EU foibles. There are some very obvious points of attack that have been made more evident in this campaign, the waste of two EU parliamentary seats – remove Strasbourg – unaudited accounts, some regulation, complete the common market in services, etc. All EU members can use this as an opportunity to do the obvious and remove easy targets for demagogues around the EU.

3 – Around Europe, set out an exit plan for a member state to leave the euro. There should be the banking regulatory equivalent of a ‘living will’ for a member who wishes to leave. The euro cannot be a lobster pot. Nor should one country’s problems with the euro be guaranteed to precipitate an EU crisis. Yes, the euro-zone might shrink, but it is unlikely to fold. Perhaps there is an optimal size that happens to be smaller but far better for members. Perhaps the euro-zone will grow when it is grown up enough to recognise that there will be leavers as well as joiners over the long-term.

4 – Around Europe, address the democratic deficit of the EU. The knee-jerk reaction to ‘EU democratic deficit’ is to give powers to the European Parliament. Here I have a strange suggestion. The European Parliament exacerbates the democratic deficit rather than fixes it. Any trade agreement requires some form of submission to a greater good, but the more the Parliament is strengthened the more sovereignty issues it creates. The more it is strengthened the greater the dissonance between “no more ‘ever closer union'” and the intentions and desire for power of such a body. There are two democratic lines now, national parliaments and direct European elections. These dual electoral lines have had led to confusion. People kick the establishment on European elections while voting pragmatically in national elections. These dual lines have funded fringe parties of right and left confusing national elections. There are many things to discuss here, e.g. directly elected commissioners, the origination of legislation, national parliamentary representation, etc. Whatever, consider constitutional reform, perhaps even the abolition of the European Parliament.

If nothing else, the EU Referendum campaign repeatedly focused attention on three issues – economics, sovereignty, and immigration. Economics matters everywhere. The UK is not the only country with sovereignty concerns about the EU. Two-to-four above do little about immigration. UK perception aside, immigration reality is a bigger issue in the EU than in the UK.

And if the UK votes leave today? Then Europe should still undertake points two-to-four above – fix the obvious, fix the euro, fix the constitution – though sadly without what might have made a great long-term partner.

Europe's Ties That Bind

Friendships Better Than Professorships?

28jan16_1440_v2This month we, the Trustees of Gresham College, hosted the Lord Mayor’s Gresham Event at Guildhall (he or she is our President!) … http://www.gresham.ac.uk/london-the-global-maritime-centre-in-a-changing-world

London – The Global Maritime Centre in a Changing World

 Thursday, 28 January 2016 – 6:00pm, Guildhall
 
THE LORD MAYOR’S ANNUAL GRESHAM EVENT – Introduction by the Lord Mayor of the City of London followed by a symposium

London’s maritime cluster is a tremendous success story. While the docks have migrated out of the centre and international dominance has been challenged, London remains an enormous shipping centre, perhaps the world’s largest.

From the Baltic Exchange and the shipbroking community to shipowners, insurers, commercial and investment banking, trade finance, commodities, legal and accountancy services – the scale of modern maritime London is awe inspiring.

London is a leading place for specialist education in these areas and also has unrivalled expertise in the provision of services to the global shipping community, including dispute resolution, class and survey work, as well as maritime innovation and technology. We will celebrate the achievements of centuries, and look forward to the challenges of centuries to come.

My Lord Mayor, My Lord, Sheriffs, Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen.   On behalf of the Provost, the Council, my fellow Professors and the Gresham Team I am pleased to welcome you tonight to our seventh Lord Mayor’s Annual Gresham Event.

We are delighted that this lecture on “London – The Global Maritime Centre In A Changing World” will be given by the most distinguished Professor Costas Grammenos, Professor of Shipping, Trade and Finance at the Cass Business School, City University London.  Costas is also the Founder and Chairman of the Costas Grammenos Centre for Shipping, Trade and Finance.

Gresham College was set up as a result of the 1579 Will of Sir Thomas Gresham to provide free education for those who live and work in the City of London.  We are still interpreting Sir Thomas Gresham’s Tudor will over four centuries later.  The Gresham College Group of the 1640s became the Royal Society.  The Royal Society was founded and housed at Gresham College until the Great Fire of London 400 years ago.  Over the centuries we have had distinguished Professors such as Henry Briggs, Christopher Wren, and Robert Hooke.

The range of issues with which education should properly be concerned, divinity, geometry, astronomy, physic, law, rhetoric, and music, has been extended over the centuries.  Since the last century, commerce, and all that goes with that, has been a focus for the Gresham Professors of Commerce.  Recently, Gresham College added environmental science, last year information technology.  The City evolves and Gresham College evolves with it but I still like to call us a Tudor Open University.

Of course one crude measure of our College’s success is attendance.  Which reminds me to take the roll call for the register this evening.  Bowman?  Charles Bowman?  Rigden, Christine Rigden…

We can only accommodate just over 20,000 physical ‘students’ at our 130 or so lectures, so back in the 1990s we went online.  We have nearly 2,000 recorded lectures by the finest minds available to the world – an unrivalled global open source resource.  Each year we have hundreds of millions of website ‘hits’, but a more accurate measure is our 6 ½ million lecture views and downloads last year.  We are on course for even more in 2016.  We step forwards, having commissioned a major revamp of the website and app for this year.  We also step backwards, having commissioned a groundbreaking biography of Sir Thomas himself.

Tonight’s event is a highlight in our annual calendar.  Our President, the Lord Mayor, has an intellectual event of his choosing.  As the The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman the Lord Mountevans, has an intense interest in shipping, it is hardly a surprise who chose tonight’s topic.  Gresham College too has a strong shipping interest, from early lectures on logarithms, navigation and woodworm to over 300 online today ranging from slave ships and whale ships to lighthouses to shipbuilding.  As a gunrunner and spy, we even have a lecture on Gresham’s armed Elizabethan Merchantman and the armada.  In a parallel universe somewhere Gresham College probably deploys submarines and an aircraft carrier or two.

Tonight’s event wouldn’t be possible without some special sponsorship, this evening from Financière de Courcelles, the French Mergers & Acquistions powerhouse with an extremely strong shipping team, and Caledonian MacBrayne, the UK’s largest navy plying the waters off Glasgow.

The order of proceedings will be roughly this: our President shall set the scene, Professor Grammenos share his thoughts on “35 Years Of London’s Maritime Cluster Through The Eyes Of An Academic”, Dr Nikolas Tsakos, Chairman of Intertanko, will provide his thoughts from the industry by way of response.  We will then move to a panel question and answer session, chaired by Professor Heather McLaughlin of Canterbury Christ Church University and former Master of the Worshipful Company of the World Traders.  I slipped up as the programme says me, but you can relax as you’re in Heather’s far better hands.  Following the panel, I will say a few words in closing.  And now, I would like to surrender the podium to our President, The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman the Lord Mountevans.  Thank you.

20160128_191839

Nikos Tsakos, Heather McLaughlin, Costas Grammenos

http://www.gresham.ac.uk/london-the-global-maritime-centre-in-a-changing-world

Well, tonight shows too well that, with shipping, it’s all in the delivery!”  And what great delivery.

There is little one can say or add to the fascinating presentations and panels that doesn’t get in the way of direct discussion, so may I ask you to join me in thanking our speakers and our chairman.

May I also ask you to join me in thanking the Gresham team who have made all the arrangements, social and technical both online and offline.

As mentioned, tonight’s event wouldn’t be possible without some special sponsorship, this evening from Caledonian MacBrayne, and Financière de Courcelles, both of whom will be available during the reception they have kindly provided.

On behalf of the Provost, the Registrar, and all of us at Gresham College, may I equally thank you the audience for coming tonight.  I hope that those of you who are new to Gresham College do come to Barnard’s Inn Hall at Holborn or the Museum of London for the numerous events we have planned with many fantastic speakers.  May you become, as I have, part of the magical community begun in 1579, over four centuries ago, by that notable man of commerce and founder of The Royal Exchange, whose legacy still inspires us tonight, Sir Thomas Gresham. I hope to welcome all of you back next year for the Lord Mayor’s Annual Gresham Event.

There are tall ships and small ships, but the best ships are Professorships.  No wait, I meant, there are tall ships and small ships, but the best ships are friendships.  I hope all of our friends enjoy the reception that follows.  Thank you.

 

Reprise Of The Morgensprache

During the week of the Lord Mayor’s Show it was our turn to host the Hamburger Morgensprache back in London.   We were delighted to be able to host them at two events.  The first event was a Freedom Ceremony on Friday, 13 November:

 

20151113_114224

Hamburger Morgensprache party with Murray Craig (far left)

As ever, Murray Craig, Clerk of the Chamberlain’s Court, City of London, provided one of his delightfully witty, historical, and theatrical presentations, with a traditional round of Madeira to toast the “Youngest Freemen”.  Perhaps the most touching thing the City of London did was to dig out from the archives this parchment from 1342!

A writ under King Edward II’s Privy Seal bidding the Mayor, Aldermen & Commonalty to allow the merchants of Almaine to enjoy their ancient franchise to sell wine and other merchandise was read in the Mayor’s Court on 13 November 1342.

The following morning of the show, 14 November, the Worshipful Company of World Traders hosted the team for a breakfast at the Capital Club, before everyone headed off to join their floats, have a wonderful Show, and get drenched!

Hamburgers Here

The Ältermänner of Hamburg in the Lord Mayor’s Show

Hamburger Morgensprache

“Handelskammer Hamburg” is the Chamber of Commerce for Hamburg – https://www.hk24.de/.  Unlike British or American chambers, German Handelskammers have statutory powers and levy charges on businesses.  Their compulsory status also encourages leading businesspeople to participate more earnestly in commerce and trade policy issues.  Starting with an initiative by Lord Mayor Michael Savory and Kenneth Stern, and picked up by Aldermen Alison Gowman, and Jeffrey Evans, they provide a float in the Lord Mayors’ Show every other year.  Equally, each year two Aldermen go to Hamburg representing the City at the Handelskammer’s big annual celebration in October, the Morgensprache.  2015 would have been an ‘away’ year for the Hamburgers, but in honour of Lord Mountevans’ Mayoralty they made a special trip this year to be in the show.

One of the most delightful trips we’ve made recently was when Elisabeth and I had a quasi-diplomatic mission to Hamburg, accompanying Alderman Alison Gowman and Murray Craig, Clerk of the Chamberlain’s Court, City of London, where we too became part of this initiative.  The purpose of the mission was to deepen links with Hamburg for the benefit of both, a celebration of trade.Coat_of_arms_of_Hamburg.svg

The Hanseatic links between London and various North Sea and Baltic ports are crucial in understanding history and where we are today, yet they get mistier.  Few remember that the Hanseatic League maintained a Kontor (a medieval free trade zone) called the ‘Stalhof’ or ‘Steelyard‘ in the heart of London from 1266 till the merchants were thrown out in 1598 by Queen Elizabeth I.  Though they returned, the Hanseatic League had certainly ceased trading by 1758.  That said, Lübeck, Bremen and Hamburg only sold their common property, the London Steelyard, to the South Eastern Railway in 1852.  Cannon Street station was built on the site and opened in 1866.

This link to the Hanse event and transcripts might interest – http://www.gresham.ac.uk/london-forgotten-hanseatic-city.  My particular interest is here – http://www.gresham.ac.uk/sites/default/files/14jun07michaelmainelli_hanseanditsinfluence.doc

Our hosts were Handelskammer Hamburg (Hamburg Chamber of Commerce).  Hamburg welcomed us most warmly.  We learned a lot as well, particularly about the role of compulsory Chambers of Commerce and how that probably makes German apprenticeships far more successful than the British sort.  They are full of pride about their City and their achievements, reminding me of a wonderful quote – “Bürgermeister Johann Heinrich Burchard (1852-1912) bemerkte zu der Nachricht, seine Majestät geruhe, Rudolph Schröder (1852–1938) in den Adelsstand zu erheben, Majestät könne ihn zwar in den Adelsstand ‘versetzen’, in ihn ‘erheben’ könne sie einen hanseatischen Kaufmann jedoch nicht.”

“Mayor Johann Heinrich Burchard (1852-1912) reacted to the news that it would please his Majesty to deign to raise Rudolph Schroeder (1852-1938) to the nobility by noting that his Majesty could indeed ‘place’ him in the peerage , however as a Hanseatic merchant he could never be ‘elevated’.”

[Renate Hauschild-Thiessen: “Adel und Bürgertum in Hamburg. In: Hamburgisches Geschlechterbuch”. 14, 1997, S. 21–32.]

Our visit was well-covered and it is difficult to think of a more generous group of hosts than the ones we had.  We toasted each other merrily with their traditional “Cheese and Bread”, an ancient London shibboleth for the German-speaking community during the days of the Kontor in London at the Stalhof.  THE HANSEATIC STEELYARD IN DOWGATE, by Alderman Alison Gowman in Mansion House on18 October 2013.Morgensprache 2015

 

 

 

Perhaps not a speech full of content, but certainly full of warm feelings, I reproduce the text of my speech followed by an English translation:

Morgensprache – Deutsche

15 October 2015, Handelskammer Hamburg

Ältermann, sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen aus London,

Ich darf Sie herzlich von Alan Yarrow, The Rt Hon Lord Mayor of London, und seinen Sheriffs sowie dem Rat der Aldermen und Councilmen grüssen.  Wir möchten von London nach Hamburg dem anhaltenden Erfolg Ihrer Morgensprache gratulieren. 

Als Professor für Handel liebe ich eine Stadt, die den Handel feiert.  Unsere beiden Städte sind sehr unabhängig.  Die Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg ist ein stolzer Stadtstaat seit dem 9.  Jahrhundert.  Die City of London ist die älteste kontinuierliche Demokratie in der Welt.  Unsere beiden Städte sind im Handel über die Jahrhunderte verbunden.  Am 8.  November 1266 wurde ein Vertrag zwischen Hamburger Kaufleuten und Henry III von England geschlossen um eine Hanse in London zu etablieren – das erste Mal in der Geschichte wurde dieser Begriff für die Liga eingesetzt.

Unsere deutschen Verbindungen sind stark.  Meine Frau kommt aus Franken.  Meine Großmutter war Deutsche.  Aber ich habe nie eine formelle Rede in Deutsch gegeben, so dass ich fast, wie in Franken, mit ‘Grüß Gott’ begann.  Wir besuchen oft Freunde in Ihrer altehrwürdigen und lebendigen Stadt.  Ich nahm jedes Jahr während den 2000er Jahren an der Kieler Woche teil.  Meine Frau und ich sind in der Schifffahrt mit einem kommerziellen, und auch altehrwürdigen, Segelboot tätig und gehören der Gilde der Worshipful Company of Watermen & Lightermen an.  Aber wir haben nie mit dieser Ehre gerechnet, heute zu Ihnen sprechen zu dürfen.  Vielen Dank.

Unsere beiden Städte haben viel gemein – Schifffahrt, Technologie, Finanzen, Kunst, Medien und Verlagswesen – aber das Wichtigste, was unsere Städte vereint, ist die ähnliche Denkweise.

Eines Tages fragte eine Lehrerin, Frau Müller, ihren Schüler Johnny, „Johnny, wenn zwei Vögel auf einer Leitung sitzen, und ich feuere zwei Schüsse aus einer Schrotflinte, wie viele Vögel werde ich treffen?“  „Einen, Frau Müller.“ „Johnny, hör mir genau zu, wenn zwei Vögel auf einer Leitung sitzen, und ich feuere zwei Schüsse aus einer Schrotflinte, wie viele Vögel werde ich treffen?“  „Einen, Frau Müller“.  „Warum, Johnny?“  „Frau Müller, nach dem ersten Schuss fliegt der zweite Vogel weg.“  „Johnny, das ist die falsche Antwort, aber mir gefällt, wie du denkst.“

Am nächsten Tag kommt Johnny ins Klassenzimmer.  „Frau Müller, mein Vater sagt, daß ich mein Taschengeld sparen soll.  Ich habe eine Wahl: Eine Bank bietet mir eine pädagogische Broschüre.  Die andere Bank hat eine sehr hübsche Kassiererin.  Welche Bank soll mein Konto bekommen?“  Die Lehrerin lacht, und sagt: „Nun, vielleicht diejenige mit der sehr hübschen Kassiererin.   Johnny erwidert: „Nein Frau Müller, die mit der größten Staatsgarantie, aber mir gefällt wie Sie denken!“

Freiheit und Handel sind eng verwandt.  Ohne Freiheit gibt es keinen fairen Handel.  Die Sicherheit, dass uns der Handel liefert, was wir zum Leben brauchen, gibt uns das Vertrauen in die Zukunft, ohne dass wir von der Angst um das Überleben gelähmt sind.  Die Freiheit, im Handel zu konkurrieren hält uns innovativ und relevant.  Wie Friedrich Hayek schon fest stellte, die Freiheit ist nicht das Gegenteil von Zwang, sondern Freiheit ist Ordnung durch das Gesetz.   Wir sind heute hier, um unsere gemeinsamen Hanse Traditionen zu feiern – Verbindung von Freiheit und Handel.

Das Wesen der Freiheit und des Handels verändert sich rasant.  Wer hätte vor zwei Jahrzehnten gedacht, dass wir die Inhalte unserer Dachböden und Keller bei eBay handeln?  Wer hätte die Explosion der billigen Flüge voraussehen können?  Und es werden noch viel mehr Veränderungen kommen – der anhaltende Aufstieg Asiens von Japan über Korea, nach China und jetzt in Indien, die Öffnung des Iran, die Europäische Flüchtlingskrise, der Klimawandel,  und wir blicken im Jahr 2050 auf Handel zwischen 10 Milliarden Menschen und Billionen von automatisierten Maschinen.

Während all dieser Veränderungen müssen unsere beiden Städte gemeinsam die Bedeutung der Freiheit und des Handels fördern.  Wir haben eine moralische Verpflichtung, freie und wettbewerbsorientierte Märkte zu verteidigen.  Die Gesellschaft hat viele Möglichkeiten zur Lösung von Krisen.  Viele dieser Lösungen sind weder hübsch noch progressiv, sondern der Weg zur Leibeigenschaft.  Der positive und direkte Weg, um Menschen in die globale Gemeinschaft zu bringen ist es, sie in die Welthandelsgemeinschaft einzubinden.  Guter Handel macht gute Kameraden.  Unsere Feier heute Abend ist ein freudiger Anlass, der als Erinnerung daran dienen soll, dass die Freiheit des Handels unsere Städte lebenswert macht.

Ich möchte mit einem Zitat aus der Antrittsrede von US-Präsident Thomas Jefferson schliessen – „Handel und ehrliche Freundschaft für alle”.  Das Zitat ist das Motto meiner Gilde, der Worshipful Company of World Traders.  Dieses Zitat verbindet unsere beiden Städte London und Hamburg.  Darf ich Sie bitten, auf zu stehen, und einen Toast mit mir auf die Gesundheit der Freien und Hansestadt Hamburg zu trinken, „Handel und ehrliche Freundschaft für alle.”

“Freiheit des Geistes, der Chancen und des Handels”.

Morgensprache – English

15 October 2015, Handelskammer Hamburg

We from London wish to congratulate Hamburg on the continuing success of your Morgensprache celebrations.  As a Professor of Commerce, I love a city that celebrates trade.  Our two cities are fiercely independent.  The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg has been a proud city-state since the 9th century.  The City of London is the oldest continuous democracy in the world.  Our two cities are united in trade over the centuries.  On 8 November 1266 a contract between Hamburg’s traders and Henry III of England establish a hanse in London – the first time in history the term was used for the League.

Our German connections are strong.  My wife comes from Franken.  My grandmother was German.  But I’ve never given a formal speech, so I almost began, as they do in Franken, with ‘Gruss Gott’.  We visit friends often in your ancient and vibrant city.  I raced sailboats at Kieler Woche every year during the 2000s.  My wife and I are in shipping with a commercial sailing boat and belong to the Worshipful Company of Watermen & Lightermen.  But we never expected the honour of being asked to address you today.  Thank you.

Our two cities are united in so much commerce – shipping, technology, finance, arts, media and publishing – but the most important thing that unites our cities is similar ways of thinking. 

One day a teacher asks her student Johnny, ‘Johnny, if there are two birds on a wire and I fire two barrels from a shotgun, how many birds will I hit?’.  ‘One, Miss’.  ‘Johnny, please listen, if there are two birds on a wire and I fire two barrels from a shotgun, how many birds will I hit?’.  ‘One, Miss’.  ‘Why Johnny?’.  ‘Well Miss, after you fire the first barrel the second bird will fly away.’  ‘Johnny, that’s the wrong answer, but I like the way you think.’

The next day Johnny comes into the classroom.  ‘Miss, my Dad says that I must save my allowance.  One bank offers me an educational booklet.  The other bank has a very pretty teller.  Which bank should get my account?’  The teacher blushes, and says ‘Well, perhaps the one with the very pretty teller.’  Johnny replies, ‘No Miss, the one with the biggest government guarantee, but I like the way you think!’.

Freedom and trade are strongly related.  Without freedom there is no fair trade.  The certainty and confidence that trade can deliver what we need to live gives us the confidence to think to the future, not paralysed by fear of surviving the present.  The freedom to compete in trade keeps us innovative and relevant.  Yet Friedrich Hayek notes that freedom is not the opposite of constraint, rather, “freedom is order through law”.  We are here today to celebrate our mutual Hanseatic connections – bindings of freedom and trade.

The nature of freedom and trade is changing rapidly.  Who would have thought two decades ago that we would be trading the contents of our attics and basements on eBay?  Who could have foreseen the explosion of cheap air flights?  And there is much more change to come – the continuing rise of Asia moving from Japan to Korea to China and now to India, the opening of Iran, the European refugee crisis, climate change, looking to commerce and trade in 2050 among 10 billion people trading with trillions of automated machines.

Throughout all of these changes, our two cities must mutually promote the importance of freedom and trade.  We have a moral obligation to defend free and competitive markets.  Society has many ways of resolving crises.  Many of society’s ways of dealing with problems are neither pretty nor progressive, the roads to serfdom.  The most positive and direct way to bring people into the global community is to bind people into the global trading community.  Good trade makes good fellows.  Our celebration tonight is clearly fun, but hopefully it provides a small reminder that freedom to trade makes our cities worth living in.

I would end with a quote from US President Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural speech of 1801 – “with commerce and honest friendship for all”.  The quote is the motto of my Worshipful Company of World Traders.   This quote unites our two cities of London and Hamburg.  May I ask all of you to be upstanding and drink a toast with me to the health of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, “with commerce and honest friendship for all.”

Aldermanic Assessment

In these days of continuous assessment, how do you know where you stand?  For folks in the City you could do worse than look into the Liber Albus 2015 (White Book 2015).  So what am I to make of this contribution to the book?

Alderman Mainelli cartoon 2015

A bit frightening that I appear to be increasing the City of London Corporation’s repair bills.  Perhaps I’ll fare better in next year’s annual review.

To order a copy – CITY WHITE BOOK 2015 – ORDER FORM

 

 

 

Sir Thomas Gresham: Tudor, Trader, Shipper, Spy and the Ladies of Dulwich

What a most interesting talk to give. My dear friend, Robin Sherlock KCLJ MA, former Chief Commoner of the City of London Corporation, asked me to speak at the Ladies’ Dinner of The Dulwich Club where he has been Senior Steward the past year. The Club, founded in 1772, is one of the oldest dining societies in the world. Elisabeth and I found the entire evening a delight. Haberdashers’ Hall was rebuilt after the fire of 1666 and the bombing of WWII, yet the Company made a brave decision to open one of the most tasteful modern halls in 2002, a true architectural gem opposite St Barthomew’s.

Giving a talk to The Dulwich Club was no easy task, as they’ve heard them all before. I was a bit trepidatious, particularly as the Junior Steward, Bruce Purgavie made clear my ignorance of football yet expected me to show some rocket science skills the night after Guy Fawkes. What can one say? Well, this was it:

Sir Thomas Gresham: Tudor, Trader, Shipper, Spy

The Dulwich Club – Ladies Night Dinner
Haberdashers’ Hall
Thursday, 6 November 2014

“Senior Steward, Junior Steward, my Lords, distinguished Guests, Ladies. When Robin suggested that I have a dinner with the Ladies of London’s most exclusive dining society, I was particularly pleased. When he suggested I bring along my Lady Elisabeth, while delighted of course, I began to realise it wasn’t my looks – I would be lecturing for my dinner on behalf of the Visitors.

Robin suggested I do a serious talk, after all the jokes, about being a newish Alderman, so I naturally thought of ward disputes, governance, compliance, and endless committee meetings to share with you. Robin wondered if perhaps there was something slightly more interesting, so let me share with you one fun project of the Joint Grand Gresham Committee – a biography on Sir Thomas Gresham: Tudor, Trader, Shipper, Spy, born 1519, died 1579.
20141023_174346

When I was a boy two-door was what you bought when you couldn’t afford four-door, but Gresham served four Tudor monarchs, managed to keep his head, and all the while made money. Lots of it. He probably died comparatively wealthier than Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. 435 years later his legacy still generates millions for good causes. We have Gresham Street. We have his statue a few hundred yards away on Holborn viaduct, another at the Royal Exchange. We have his Tower 42 Mansion site, Osterley Park, Boston Manor. His grave at St Helen’s Bishopsgate. We have grasshoppers everywhere – on the top of the Royal Exchange, at 68 Lombard Street, on stained glass windows.

Gresham was born on Cheapside and attended St Paul’s School and Gonville College, Cambridge. In 1543 he went to Antwerp to make his fortune as a Mercer. Antwerp then was very cosmopolitan and large for the time, with a population approaching 100,000, double London or Rome. Just 25 merchants accounted for half of London’s cloth exports, and the two biggest exporters were the brothers John Gresham and Richard Gresham, Thomas’s father.

Gresham imported from Antwerp the idea of a ‘bourse’ or ‘exchange’ for intangible items such as ship voyages and insurance. Incorporated into the 1571 Royal Exchange were 150 small shops, called The Pawn, London’s first shopping centre. From within St Martin’s Goldsmiths he experimented with fractional reserve gold stores, cornering markets, and insider trading. His Will, enacted upon his death in 1579, created Gresham College and challenged the ‘Oxbridge’ oligopoly in higher education.

We are commissioning a biography which we hope to publish on the quincentenary of his birth, 2019. But what does a Tudor have to say about contemporary issues? I thought I’d ‘channel’ Gresham on three questions today:
1 – what should we do about our banks?
2 – what should we do about our currency?
3 – what should we do about Europe?

1 – What Should We Do About Our Banks?

Gresham was probably one of the first goldsmiths to issue more certificates for gold in the vaults than he had. Our modern economic terms are fractional reserve banking or leveraged banking. So rather than letting banks such as RBS in 2008 lend 42 times what they had in the vaults, Gresham would probably recommend tight control over leverage. He might have recommended that our quantitative easing continue to the point that our banks were lending little more than they have in their vaults.

2 – What Should We Do About Our Currency?

Gresham explained to Elizabeth I that because Henry VIII and Edward VI had replaced 40% of the silver in shillings with base metal, ‘all your fyne gold was conveyed out of this your realm.’ Colloquially expressed as “bad money drives out good”, Gresham’s Law was attributed to him in 1858 by a Scottish economist. Two awkward bits – the Law is the reverse, “good money drives out bad”, and Gresham’s Law was not his; it was noted much much earlier by many, starting with Aristophanes. The Nobel economist Robert Mundell rephrased Gresham’s Law more properly as “cheap money drives out dear money only if they must be exchanged for the same price”.

In 1551 Edward VI appointed Thomas as Royal Agent in Antwerp. A clever and shrewd dealer, Gresham reduced royal indebtedness from £325,000 to £108,000. He reduced the national debt by two-thirds in nine months. Under so-called ‘austerity’, UK national debt has grown over the past four years by a third. William Cecil put Gresham in charge of recoinage in 1560. To his, Elizabeth’s, and Cecil’s credit, within a year debased money was withdrawn, melted, and replaced, with a profit to the Crown estimated at £50,000.

Gresham stood for an independent pound sterling. He certainly wouldn’t have sold off the national gold reserve. More interestingly, he might also have supported an independent London currency.

3 – What Should We Do About Europe?

A Gresham ship from 1570 was re-discovered in the Thames in 2003; its cannons inscribed with grasshoppers and marked ‘TG’. There are tales of bullion concealed in bales of pepper or armour. Gresham was clearly a “merchant adventurer” with a network of European agents, though the sobriquet ‘arms-dealer’ might equally apply.

The Royal Exchange began as his father’s idea, but the idea behind the exchange and the shops was that London prospers when all who come for exchange are treated fairly.

Gresham was a free trader and Europhile, yet also a realist and a spy, committed to engaging with Europe, vigorously, but for mutual and selfish benefit.

Hop To It

I must end on grasshoppers, in two ways – the family symbol and Kung Fu. The Gresham grasshopper first appears in the mid-1400’s. According to family legend, the founder of the family, Roger de Gresham, was abandoned as a baby in long grass in North Norfolk in the 13th century. A woman’s attention was drawn to the foundling by a grasshopper. While a beautiful story, a more likely explanation is that the Middle English word ‘gressop’ for ‘grasshopper’ resembles ‘Gresham’. I think the Royal Exchange may have taken the theme too far – if you look on the south side just now it reads, “luxury shopping”, but the “s” has temporarily fallen off. Luxury hopping?

And Kung Fu? Well grasshoppers, you’ll remember David Carradine and the 1970 television series – ‘grasshoppers’ are students. Gresham believed in the power of education for all. His Tudor Open University spawned ‘The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge’ after a 1660 lecture by Sir Christopher Wren, then Professor of Astronomy. Today Gresham College hosts over 130 physical events per year free to the public, distributes recordings under a Creative Commons licence, and provides millions of people with lecture transcripts and recordings via the internet.

A century after Gresham’s death Samuel Pepys enjoyed Gresham’s legacies, listening to one of the professors ‘sufficiently learned to reade the lectures’, then strolling through the Royal Exchange afterwards in search of a gift for a loved one, as can you today well over three centuries later. We’re pleased to be setting out on the first proper biography and I hope you feel he is a worthy subject. What I might ask you to do is look around the City and wonder at how we ourselves could leave a comparable legacy for the next half a millennium. We, your grateful guests, know the Dulwich Club will be full of enthusiastic ideas. Thank you!”

And for even more…

Michael Mainelli and Valerie Shrimplin, “Sir Thomas Gresham: Tudor, Trader, Shipper, Spy”, London Topographical Society Newsletter, Number 79 (November 2014), pages 3-6.