From Archives To Modern Lives – Deep In The King’s College Scientific Archives

From Archives to Modern Lives: Frontiers of Trade and Technology
A survey of past and present innovation in association with King’s College London Archives, Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Surprisingly for some, London is, and almost always has been, a science city.  From the Gresham College days of the Tudor ‘New Learning’, Francis Bacon, the foundation of the Royal Society and on to the Industrial Revolution, genetics and even ‘fintech’, London has been at least as much about science & technology as it has been about trade & finance.

The World Traders had a wonderful day indeed.  Our main event, from 15:00 to 17:30, consisted of fully-illustrated presentations by six distinguished speakers, each at the very top of his or her own area of expertise. They referenced key objects of lasting scientific importance from King’s College London.

We handled numerous artefacts ranging from the original Wheatstone Telegraph of 1837 to the original DNA photo, “Photo 51”, to Barbara Cartland and Ted Hughes and Alan Ginsburg materials. Dr Brian May (yes, of Queen!) is an enormous fan of stereoscopy, heading up The London Stereoscopic Company, and created a 3D film for us. It feels like serious Livery one-up-person-ship that we can brag, “as we wore our 3D glasses Dr May leaped out from the screen to ‘Greet the Worshipful Company of World Traders’”.

The reception and dinner were on the eighth floor of Bush House in Aldwych (a building recently taken over by KCL, previously occupied by the BBC) with dramatic views from the City to Wesminster.

Wheatstone’s Cryptographs and Cipher

The full programme:

15:00 for 15:15      Reception, 1st Floor, Bush House, 101 (Auditorium)

15:15 – 15:30          Welcome
Deborah Bull, Assistant Principal King’s College London

Dr Jessica Borge & Dr Geoff Browell

15:30 – 16:15         Computer Code
Artefact:                  Wheatstone’s Cryptographs and Cipher Post/ Telegraph TBC
Dr Jamie Barras
Professor Mischa Dohler

16:15 – 17:00          Life Code
Artefact:                   Photograph 51 TBC
Professor David Edgerton
Professor Karen Steel

17:00 – 17:45          Visual Code
Artefact:                   Wheatstone’s Stereoscope TBC
Denis Pellerin
Professor Reza Razavi

17:45 – 18:00          Concluding Remarks
Dr Geoff Browell

18:00 – 19:00          Drinks, 8th Floor, Bush House (South)

19:00 – 21:30          Dinner, 8th Floor, Bush House (North)
Guest Speaker: Dr Carina Fearnley

Liquidity Ditty – LiquiDitty – The Poem Drops

Ten years ago I gave a lecture on liquidity at Gresham College – “Liquidity: Finance In Motion Or Evaporation?”  – London, England (5 September 2007).  I recommend the transcript as easiest to read with the slides.  The lecture was actually scheduled back in February 2005 (yes) as I looked ahead ujneasily towards a liquidity crisis.  The timing turned out to be too good as I came back from summer break after BNP Paribas started the financial crises news and things lurched onwards to Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, RBS, etc.

Engraving of a flea, Micrographia by (fellow) Gresham Professor Robert Hooke, 1665.

In these days of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) this lecture seems to be coming back in popularity and I wonder about a reprise.  Meanwhile, I couldn’t resist ending the lecture with a little ditty of my own, based on Jonathan Swift’s construction around a flea, The Siphonaptera, that seems worth sharing again:

Big pools have little pools

which suck out their liquidity,

and little pools still lesser pools

and so on to aridity.


So, financiers observe, small pools

suck larger pools liquidity,

yet tinier pools drain other drops,

and so on to aridity.

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!) …

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

Continue reading

Kuring? No, But Konfirming The Origins Of Kawasaki Disease

Here is a nice story about the ancient Barts Pathology lab helping advance modern medical science a teensy bit over the tragic Kawasaki disease:–but-it-may-all-be-in-the-wind-10376403.html

“Gee’s post-mortem examination findings, preserved in a single paragraph written in 1871, recorded signs of damage called aneurysms in the coronary arteries running across the surface of the boy’s heart.”


For me, this museum story began in 2006.  Professor Will Ayliffe and I were aghast at the state of deliberate neglect when we made an ‘illegal’ tour of the then abandoned facility.  I was on a board of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) where the Clinical Pathology Association (CPA) was a subsidiary.  The CPA had a Trust to which we applied for cataloguing, and the CPA Trust funding came through in 2009/2010 with Dr Ken Scott’s support (the CEO of CPA).  Colleague Professor Adrian Newland lent his support, thus drawing in Barts Trust support.

The publication by Carla Connolly of her preservation work – –  along with this Gresham College lecture by Will – – (supported by Gresham Professors Tim Connell and Frank Cox), and City of London support through Wendy Mead kept up the visibility, leading to the permanent museum arrangements with Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) –

And it turned out the historic collection was useful, perhaps invaluable, as long suspected by Will and me. Sadly (for those with this rare disease and their families), yet hopefully (medically and scientifically), perhaps more value will be derived in future on Kawasaki and other diseases. I think it is a great story, or backstory, for all of us in the City, Gresham College, and the scientific profession.

[Coda: during the covid-19 pandemic we have also seen Kawasaki disease feature, so the origins are important –]

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.

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.

Political Podium Practice

Don’t all politicians prattle on?  Where do they practice?  Well this one is practicing at Gresham College tomorrow night –

The event is free and open to the public, including Broad Street electors who wish to assess a potential Alderman’s speaking ability.  Just turn up about 17:45…

“Taking Modern Money Apart”

Thursday, 13 June 2013 – 6:00pm,

Barnard’s Inn Hall

“Money just isn’t what it used to be”, my grandmother used to observe with a sigh…  We could add today, and soon it won’t be any longer what it now is!  Money (and its relatives) are evolving, fast, in response to the revolution in information and communications and this evolution is certainly causing problems.  But it is also opening opportunities for really significant changes in the economy.I’ll be combining research we did with the City of London Corporation in 2011 – “Capacity, Trade and Credit: Emerging Architectures for Commerce and Money” – with Edward J Nell’s transcript on capacity exchanges.  Edward is the creator of the acclaimed Theory of Transformational Growth which is regaining interest as credit markets remain blocked.

Literature and the Arts – Final Dinner For The “Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery Committee”

Chairman, Past Chairman, Aldermen, Ladies & Gentlemen

When John Scott asked me to address this Committee and its many supporters on behalf of the guests in honour of its Past Chairman at this farewell do, I was greatly honoured.  Sidney Joseph (S J) Perlman wrote for the New Yorker and also for the Marx Brothers.  A copy of Perlman’s 1929 book, Dawn Ginsbergh’s Revenge, was sent to Groucho Marx.  Groucho sent Perlman a letter that said, “From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter.  Someday I intend reading it.”  [quoted in LIFE, 9 February 1962]  John Scott may wind up paraphrasing, “from the moment you stood up till the moment you stood down, we were convulsed.  Someday we’ll get Lisa Jardine.”



I learned history in the United States.  Thus I know two big historical facts about libraries.  First, Benjamin Franklin invented the library.  Second, we lost a lot of books during the Civil War when the great library burned down in Alexandria … Virginia.  Imagine my surprise on arriving in London to find that libraries, even lending libraries, pre-date Franklin, who quite probably visited the Guildhall Library.  Imagine my even greater surprise to find that the Virginians have rebuilt their Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt.

We’re all book addicts.  I read too much, carry a Camomile Street card, even founded and sold a multi-lingual children’s book publishing firm.  I’ve browsed Harvard’s Houghton rare book library for Martin Luther’s thoughts on intellectual property, and toured the wonderful gem of Thomas Plume’s library in Maldon where my children were shown sixteenth century prints of rhinoceri.  Our family checks out talking books from the Barbican while I delve in the Guildhall on Gresham College or the City digital archives on Thames sailing barges.  Yes, we’re all addicts.   Claire Scott and I sympathise with Groucho Marx – “I find television very educational.  Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.”  Though an art philistine, I’m forever telling friends to borrow my visitor’s card to the Guildhall Art Gallery.  A while ago, as one wag put, “the Guildhall Art Gallery was the only public art gallery in London where everyone got a private viewing”.  Today, thanks to this Committee’s work, the Gallery reaches more and more people as the City opens up to visitors, rather than closing in due to the financial crises.

Yet … asking friends about libraries for this lecture elicited immense support, but a paucity of recent visits.  Some years ago I hosted a dinner for a man with a strange accent, Loyd Grossman.  As well as his sauces with a distinctive voice, Loyd is known for his work on museums and questioned whether museums were “Temples of the Muses or Temples of Amusement”.  Everyone loves museums in the abstract, but in practice?  Last year our family added a Kindle and an iPad last year to our menagerie of gadgets.  Both have filled up with our-children-ought-to-read-these books Elisabeth and I treasure.  And this affects libraries.  Libraries and archives are loved in abstract, but attendance and usage drift in these days of “never judge a book by its movie”.  [JW Eagan]

Perhaps libraries and archives are never more loved than as metaphors.  Jorge Luis Borges was director of the Argentine National Library.  He remarked, “if I were asked to name the chief event in my life, I should say my father’s library”.  Borges’ famous short story, The Library of Babel, postulated a vast library containing all possible ‘410 page’ books, inspiring numerous philosophical musings, such as how libraries explain Bertrand Russell’s paradox on mathematical sets – where do you catalogue the catalogue of all catalogues that don’t list themselves?

The British statesman Lord Palmerston must have visited many libraries to become an expert on the enigmatic Schleswig-Holstein problem of the mid 19th century.  Palmerston said: “Only three people have ever really understood the Schleswig-Holstein business – the Prince Consort, who is dead – a German professor, who has gone mad – and I, who have forgotten all about it.”  In the age of the internet, libraries, archives and art galleries everywhere pose riddles of Schleswig-Holstein complexity.  According to W V Quine, the renowned Harvard philosopher, Borges’ infinite library can be created simply by writing a dot on one side of paper, a dash on the back, and then randomly flipping till the end of eternity.  Bits and bytes are our challenge.  Our pressing paradox is that until some desperately distant time in the future, we need to preserve the past today.

Libraries and archives serve at least three functions – building communities of learning, providing information services, and supporting research.  All of these are important to us, and all are in flux.  But I would like to emphasise a fourth function that this committee exemplifies.  Experimentation.  Notwithstanding our shared fondness for cellulose information storage, this committee’s legacy will be its experiments.  Whether trialling DVDs or internet access, testing new working methods, building European Visual Archives, or striking innovative deals with, this Committee has shown daring.  And while he or she who dares does not always win, they are remembered.  Libraries and archives will change – and this Committee has helped them learn how.

Seneca believed in this form of remembrance: “Why do you ask, how long has he lived? He has lived to posterity.” [“Quid quaeris, quamdiu vixit? Vixit ad posteros.”] (Lucius Annaeus Seneca), Epistles (XCIII)  Preservation is key, but your true legacy is what you dared to try for posterity.  Sometimes posterity is high-brow, from new insights on the origins of science to rediscovered musical scores.  Sometimes posterity is low-brow – C J Sansom’s best-selling crime series set in the reign of Henry VIII features a hunchbacked lawyer in Lincoln’s Inn, Matthew Shardlake.  Shardlake has to rely on the Guildhall library to solve cases.  Someone in the 16th century experimented with letting lawyers in.  Now that was daring.

We’ve had a great evening with fantastic food, wonderful music and fine hospitality.  This is not a wake, more a celebration around a blazing phoenix – I expect much to arise from this Committee’s legacy; so I shall end with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that exhorts your successors to experiment even more – “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

May I ask all guests to be upstanding as I propose a toast to our hosts – “To the Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery Committee – Literature and the Arts.”

Gresham College – A Short, Personal, Alternative History

Gresham College – A Short, Personal, Alternative History

 Professor Michael Mainelli, Gresham Fellow & Trustee


[October 2009 – originally written for the Mercers’ Company]

Sir Thomas Gresham (1519-1579) traded cloth and linens between England and the Low Countries at a time when Cambridge and Oxford had a duopolistic hold on higher education in England.  A Cambridge man himself (Caius College), if Gresham’s skippers had visited an Oxbridge College they would have, at best, had the door of a college opened to them and then been laughed at in Latin for their ignorance before being closed in their face.

If you’re going to backstab some one properly, do it from the front. Gresham did so with money. Sir Thomas died of apoplexy in 1579 bequeathing one moiety to the Corporation of London and the other moiety to the Mercers’ Company, charging them with the nomination of seven Professors to lecture in Astronomy, Divinity, Geometry, Law, Music, Physic and Rhetoric.  He required the lectures to be in Latin and, horror horribilis, English.  In effect, Sir Thomas, who pursued monopolies himself, used his will of 1575 anti-monopolistically to crack the Oxbridge oligopoly by bribing seven professors to give lectures to the public, in English.

Gresham College is about ‘new learning’.  Sir Thomas felt strongly that the ‘new learning’ should be available to those who worked – merchants, tradesmen and ships’ navigators – rather than solely gentlemen scholars.  In the 17th century, the Royal Society was founded to explore “natural philosophy”, new learning through experimentation.  So, it is no surprise that the Royal Society was founded and housed at Gresham College for half a century (1660 to 1710) and numbered among its associates Gresham Professors Petty, Boyle, and Evelyn.

For over 400 years the Gresham Professors have given free public lectures in the City of London.  I had the privilege of four years (2005-2009) in the modern, eighth chair as Mercers’ School Memorial Professor of Commerce from 2005 to 2009.  There are some deep footsteps in which we tread.  Early professors at Gresham College included Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke, also integral to the Royal Society.  Recent professors include the mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose of Penrose/Hawkings fame and the theoretical physicist John Barrow, who won the Templeton Prize and the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday Prize.

Professorships are awarded for three years with a stipend for six lectures a year, though professors often give more.  Each professor develops his or her own programme.  Academic professors complain that what seems like a sinecure is actually a very demanding post requiring novel, innovative, researched lectures of six to eight thousand words suitable for a global audience.  Business professors, such as I, definitely find it is work.  My estimate is that each lecture takes approximately 100 hours of preparation, thus 600 hours at about £10/hour – you’re not doing it for the money.  In fact, at that rate you should question whether you’re competent to be a professor of commerce.

As my tenure was extended for a year and I had ‘been volunteered’ each year for an additional lecture in the Docklands, I gave 28 lectures.  As a glutton for work, I gave a final synthesis lecture as part of the City of London Festival’s celebration of the 2,000 anniversary of the publication of Ovid’s Metamorphoses with saxophonist John Harle and friend Bill Joseph, “Metamorphoses: The Terrible Beauty of Change“, for 29 formal lectures in four years. The core 28 lectures, around 8,000 words per lecture, 56,000 words per year, some 224,000 words, found their way into the obligatory book – The Price of Fish: A New Approach To Wicked Economics And Better Decisions.  Fortunately for readers, only 100,000 found their way out to the printer.

Given 48 professorial lectures a year, along with honorary professors, former professors, fellows and numerous guest lecturers, Gresham College provides around 140 intellectual events a year for business people, retired people, mature students, university students, schools and the general public.  Each year over 20,000 people physically attend Gresham College’s 140 lectures.  In an age concerned with making money from intellectual property, Gresham College encourages the free exchange of ideas and is one of the most potent intellectual houses on the net and podcasts.  To quote Jefferson, “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me”. The Gresham community worldwide downloads lectures over a million times each year from a library of now thousands of recorded lectures, many of which find their way into syllabi from the USA to China.  My strapline for Gresham College today is, “Gresham College: The Modern Tudor Open University”, a “Tudor TED” even.

At Gresham College, we seek to reinterpret the ‘new learning’ of Sir Thomas’s time in contemporary terms.  Our emphasis is on sharing knowledge, exchanging ideas, fusing old views and generating new insights.  Gresham College is increasingly important for those living and working in London as the traditional universities and colleges focus on qualifications and are less able to offer the extra-mural activities they once did.  We have no conscripts: we have a community of people who come because they want to, because they find the lectures and seminars topical, informative and enjoyable. Gresham College is about personal, higher education from dipping into one lecture to completing a series.  I often lord over my academic friends that our current Registrar continues a long tradition of Registrary excellence – in over 400 years no registrar has admitted a single student.

Yes, I am a Gresham Groupie. I found the four years at Gresham College extremely rewarding and remain a Trustee and Fellow, and my firm continues to work on Long Finance and the London Accord with Gresham College.  Sir Thomas Gresham is synonymous with Gresham’s Law, best expressed as “good money drives out bad”.  I often think that the best people in the world come to work in one of the best cities in the world because Gresham College has a part in helping good discussion drive out bad.  Our 16th century Open University is going strong in the 21st.

[I continued to give talks and run symposia to the point that I ultimately became involved in over 120 events.]

To view all Michael’s Gresham lectures.

London Accord – Sharing Research To Save The Planet

After two years of hard work led by Jan-Peter Onstwedder and me, we finally launch the London Accord at Mansion House on the evening of 19 December.

Grainy but true – l to r: Rt Honourable Lord Mayor David Lewis, Rt Honourable John Sutton MP, Sir Michael Snyder, Professor Michael Mainelli

My Lord Mayor, Your Excellencies, My Lords, Secretary of State, Alderman, Sheriffs, [Councillors, Distinguished Guests,] Ladies and Gentlemen… – it is my great pleasure to have this opportunity to tell you tonight about the London Accord.

The London Accord’s theme is “cash in, carbon out”. The London Accord provides informed views about climate change investment and sets out a methodology for evaluating those investments. The London Accord began in 2005 at almost the same time as the Stern Review. Sir Nicholas said last year that “climate change is the greatest market failure the world has seen”. While I admire many aspects of the Stern Report, I beg to differ with this specific point.

Markets haven’t failed. Markets have done what markets do, set prices and transfer resources and risks. In the case of climate change, what we have is an absence of a market. Markets and investors have acted accordingly. Events in Bali last week change all that. Henceforth, society will turn greenhouse gas emissions into a property that can be capped, traded, and reduced – and we must factor these emission costs into all investment decisions.

Why does the London Accord matter? Well, for a start, the publication of the London Accord matters to us because we have been working on it for over two years, but the London Accord should matter to everyone. The comedian Jay Leno once quipped, “According to a new UN report, the global warming outlook is much worse than originally predicted. Which is pretty bad when they originally predicted it would destroy the planet.” The London Accord matters because the financial services community says, if society is prepared to pay, commerce can stop global warming.

Our future scenarios for greenhouse gas emission prices are double today’s €20 per tonne of CO2, more like €40 per tonne of CO2. In rough terms, we need to reduce the CO2 emissions per Briton from 10 tonnes to one or two tonnes. At around €40/tonne that’s about €300 per person or about €1,200 per family per year. It’s going to be quite a different world.

Private sector investment is crucial to climate change investment (86% of capital investment in energy supply must be from the private sector – UNFCCC). Much of that investment will be funded through large pension funds and asset managers who rely on analysis by the financial services sector for investment decisions. So what did the London Accord team conclude?
• Energy investment is going to become much, much riskier;
• Investors should invest now. At prices per tonne of CO2 over €30, investment portfolios can constructed that produce both attractive financial and ‘carbon returns’.
• Forestry is a big unknown – there is a need to narrow the range of credible estimates for abatement and costs of forestry projects, as well as solidify carbon offset markets for forestry.
• Efficiency gains continue to show great potential for financial and carbon returns but may need behavioural incentives such as regulation.
• Carbon capture and sequestration/storage (CCS) seems an unrealistic investment today.

Moreover, financial services leaders understand the need to collaborate or collapse. The London Accord is a great ‘open source’ research project – the largest-ever private-sector investment collaboration into climate change, representing work valued at £7million ($15million). Buy-side firms such as Universities Superannuation Scheme, Insight, and Legal & General helped sell-side firms and analysts shape the project to ensure its outcomes would be useful to investors. Observers from the EU, the International Energy Agency, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and others have been involved.

In the time available, I must turn to thanks, and there are far too many. The London Accord has truly been a cooperative effort. Jan-Peter Onstwedder and I recorded nearly 500 thanks in the CD-ROM you will receive tonight, and still we missed people. However, on such a special evening there are a few I must single out. First, I would thank my team at Z/Yen, including Ian Harris, Linda Cook, Mark Yeandle, Kevin Parker, Liz Bailey and Alexander Knapp, who put up with two years of stress. BP staff worked throughout on the London Accord, and here I would single out Tessa Marwick, Andrew Vivian, James Palmer and Sanet Phillips. Gresham College’s Lord Sutherland and Barbara Anderson helped to kick things off and generously provided facilities, including a technical seminar at Gresham College we’re having on 30 January 2008 to which all of you are welcome. Henry Thoresby and Sir Howard Davies gave us excellent support from the LSE community pulling the threads together.

The best way to thank the contributors, the important people who did all the work, is to enumerate their reports:

First we had two papers setting the context:
• Alexander Evans, Center on International Cooperation at New York University & David Steven, River Path Associates, wrote “Climate Change: the State of the Debate”, examining how climate change rose above other global issues;
• Nick Butler, Cambridge Centre for Energy Studies set out “The Forces of Change in the Energy Market”.

Then, the heavyweights analysed the investment opportunities:
• Solar Energy – Eckhard Plinke and Matthias Fawer, Bank Sarasin
• Investing in Biofuels – Conor O’Prey, ABN AMRO
• Investing in Renewable Energy – Mark Thompson, Canaccord Adams
• The Global Case for Efficiency Gains – Miroslav Durana, Tanya Monga and Hervé Prettre, Credit Suisse
• Energy Efficiency – Asari Efiong, Merrill Lynch
• Carbon Capture and Sequestration – Marc Levinson, JPMorgan Chase
• Emissions Trading – Andrew Humphrey and Luciano Diana, Morgan Stanley
• Forest Assets – Stephane Voisin and Mikael Jafs, Cheuvreux

A number of us examined the wider impacts:
• Credit Risk – Christopher Bray and Dr Richenda Connell, Barclays and Acclimatise
• Carbon Intensity – Valéry Lucas-Leclin, Société Générale
• Sustainable Investment Solutions – Alice Chapple, Vedant Walia and Will Dawson, Forum for the Future
• The Legal Issues – Lewis McDonald, Herbert Smith
• Climate Change Investment and Policy Portfolios – James Palmer

Finally, some of us considered the policy implications
• Technological Development – J Doyne Farmer & Dr Jessika Trancik, The Santa Fe Institute
• Emission Standards – Steven Davis, The Climate Conservancy
• Product-Level Standards – Hendrik Garz: WestLB
• Philanthropy – Davida Herzl, NextEarth Foundation
• Carbon Markets and Forests – Eric Bettelheim, Gregory Janetos and Jennifer Henman, Sustainable Forestry Management
• Cap-and-Trade Versus Carbon Tax – Alexander Knapp, Z/Yen, Jan-Peter Onstwedder

The full publication, The London Accord: Making Investment Work For The Climate, contains 25 reports in 780 pages.

Very early on we formed a governance team consisting of the early supporters, each of whom gave freely of their time and whom I would like to thank personally:
• Alice Chapple from Forum for the Future
• Simon Mills from the City of London Corporation
• Chris Mottershead from BP plc
• Alexander Evans from New York University’s Center on International Cooperation

Before closing, I would like to move on to three special thanks. The first is a personal and corporate thank you to the City of London Corporation. Without the Corporation’s resources this project would be a pale shadow of what it is tonight. The personal part is to thank Michael Snyder, Chairman of the Policy & Resources Committee, for putting his drive, intellect and charisma behind the London Accord so early on. People remark that it seems harder and harder for government and commerce to work together. That may be true, but when you see the City of London accomplishing so much globally, it’s hard to remember it’s just our local council.

Second, my heartfelt thanks must go to Jan-Peter Onstwedder and all the support we had from BP and, in particular, Vivienne Cox. Jan-Peter was the Project Director from last year, well before formally joining the project. Jan-Peter has diplomatic and organisational skills of which I can only dream. Jan-Peter should be giving this talk, but is, as ever, too modest. Jan-Peter applied his intellectual, social and organisational skills with the determination to show that financial services can make difference to climate change. It was a privilege to work with Jan-Peter this year.

Finally, I would like to especially thank you, my Lord Mayor. Two years ago you had the foresight and courage to lend this crazy idea your valuable support. Two years later you have the generosity and kindness to lend us your home for this magnificent event. You have been stalwart throughout and I hope that the London Accord publication is a fitting tribute to your concern, your passion and your vision of London’s financial services industry at the front of the fight against climate change. In your year in office, which has started so brilliantly, I wish you the highest success in all of your endeavours in office, from the ceremonial to the commercial to the charitable.

The London Accord demonstrates that the financial services sector understands well the future implications of climate change. A man once reproached William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in Star Trek: “On your show, you had Russians, Chinese, Africans, and many others – why did you never have a character of my nationality?” Shatner supposedly replied, “You must understand that Star Trek is set in the future.” The London Accord is about our future and we would like to make sure that all nationalities are there, tropical, temperate or arctic; mountain top or sea-side.

Financial services is stereotyped as a selfish, self-centred industry. Over the past two years the collaboration and sharing of the London Accord has proved that stereotype wrong. The London Accord makes me proud to work in financial services. You should all be proud too.

Thank you.