New York is a cosmopolitan place. London is of another order.
Consider the financial services sector, which accounts for more than 11% of the UK government’s tax receipts: the Bank of England is run by a Canadian, a Frenchman is head of the London Stock Exchange, executives from Portugal and New Zealand run two of the country’s state-run banks, and Barclays, one of the few big British banks left with global aspirations, recently replaced a Brit with an American at the helm.
In both New York and London, more than a third of the population is foreign born. But in London’s financial district, foreigners run the show. They even have a term for it: “Wimbledonization”, derived from the fact that England hosts the best players from around the world at its great tennis championship, but a local rarely wins it.
“We’re not bothered by who owns it or who runs it,” just that it takes place here, Mark Boleat, policy chairman for the City of London Corporation, told me a few years ago, explaining the term. “If a foreigner can run it better than we can, that’s great,” he said. “We’re different from other countries in this way.”