Well, that’s your weekend reading sorted.
This week’s edition of The Economist is little more than a love letter to London. A picture of The Shard graces the cover, and inside is a 14-page special report on the state of London’s economy, population, transport, society, past, future and more besides.
Unashamedly positive about the capital, the Economist’s report describes London as an “astonishing human artefact” and “the very model of a global city”, one that was on the slide as recently as a generation ago, yet has somehow resurrected its fortunes and transformed itself into a financial capital and creative powerhouse attracting talented workers in their hundreds of thousands. The report is also loaded with interesting facts, figures and charts for data dorks to pore over; helpfully, many of them have been collected into this interactive graphic.
The report also identifies certain threats to London’s continued pre-eminence, some of which are out of its control (the shifting patterns of wealth and the erosion in importance of its key position between the Asian and American financial markets) and others firmly in the hands of politicians (the increasingly punitive attitude towards immigration which, outside of London, remains a sore point for much of the population).
The areas of London’s success lauded by The Economist isn’t one everybody may be comfortable with. In keeping with its reputation as a staunchly pro-business paper, much of London’s role as a financial centre, the changes that have been wrought since the Big Bang of 1986 deregulated the markets, and its current appeal to the hyper-rich elite from around the globe, are painted as unilaterally positive. You don’t need to be doling out the Socialist Worker outside Brixton Tube each week to query some of the ways that the huge influx of money in recent decades has warped certain aspects of life in London.
In short, there’s plenty to agree with, argue with and discuss over brunch.