As economics journalist Robert Peston prepares to deliver his lecture for the Addleshaw Goddard "The City and the Future" series, we asked our clients which global issues represent the biggest risks to the City.
Structural flaws within the Eurozone continue to cause the greatest concern, along with the worries associated with China’s recent economic slowdown.
David Engel, Partner, Addleshaw Goddard
On 11 November, Robert Peston, the BBC’s award-winning economics editor will deliver the second of Addleshaw Goddard’s lectures looking at the challenges our clients face in "The City and the Future".
While the UK may be one of the world’s brighter economic spots, Peston's lecture, entitled "Britain's economic recovery in a dangerous and uncertain world", will explore how secure our current prosperity might be, at a time when the City faces many external pressures and there is a real risk of further economic shocks upsetting the global equilibrium.
When we asked our clients about the global pressures that they believe pose the greatest risks to the City, it became clear that the vast majority continue to worry about the structural flaws within the Eurozone, which have been causing economic uncertainty among our nearest neighbours for several years now.
Certainly the Euro looked on the brink of collapse in the summer of 2015 when the Greek sovereign debt crisis was at its peak. But by the end of July the Greek banks had reopened and the Greek government had made scheduled payments to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, apparently averting disaster and potentially marking the end of the Eurozone crisis.
But still the question remains as to whether the Eurozone is anywhere near grappling with much more deep-rooted structural issues. When Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, launched a mammoth programme of quantitative easing at the start of 2015 – a policy previously eschewed on this side of the Atlantic – he bought the Eurozone some time, but did not change the core problem of the single currency's weaker members, such as Greece, Spain and Italy. Those countries are not growing fast enough to stop their debts becoming more onerous, and austerity has so far only made matters worse.
Many of the Eurozone's greatest challenges are political as well as economic, and averting a Greek debt disaster was certainly a feat of political compromise. It remains to be seen whether it has created the conditions for a Europe-wide economic recovery.
Elsewhere, the gravity of China’s economic slowdown, and the associated slowdown of other emerging economies that have been driving global growth for years, is also of some concern to our clients. China’s economic growth is slowing to its lowest pace in more than two decades, and the International Monetary Fund has slashed its forecasts for China's economy almost in half since 2010, lowering economic growth predictions from 10% to nearer 6%. The World Bank has said that if growth is one percentage point lower in China than expected, it could take a half percentage point off global growth. It is perhaps of little surprise that our delegates are fearful of the fallout.
Peston will look at these issues, as well as the impact of the rise of populist politicians, of both left and right, throughout the developed world. And he will consider how long the UK can continue to grow when borrowing such huge amounts from the rest of the world.
The way forward
The City and the Future lecture series was conceived to bring together influencers and businesses so that we can all learn, share and form opinions on future thinking within the City. It is clear that the most successful businesses in 2030 will be those that have been forward-looking and willing to implement changes ahead of their competitors.
Author and business strategy consultant Richard Watson kicked off the lecture series at the start of this month, and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone will deliver the third lecture in the series later in November.
As with the first event, both of the remaining lectures promise to generate fascinating discussions, and we are looking forward to sharing these important insights with our clients.
Please note that attendance to "The City and the Future" is by invitation only.