London fights for its future

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Comment, analysis and other offerings from Friday’s FT,Philip Stephens: The highs and lows of democracyThe story of 2011 has been of the advance of democracy and the failure of democracies, says the FT’s Philip Stephens. In the Arab world, tyrants have fallen on the region’s political awakening. In rich nations, elected leaders have been frozen in crisis. Welcome to another of the paradoxes of the new global disorder. I do not recall the advance predictions that the good news this year would come from the Arab street; nor that the bad news would see a Greek debt crisis turn into an existential threat to half a century of European integration. We are in an age that habitually defies the easy assumptions of the old order. The passing of two centuries of western hegemony will be an unpredictable and uncomfortable experience. Gillian Tett: Crisis fears fuel debate on capital controlsIs the world stealthily sliding towards capital controls? That is the question which is starting to hover, half-stated, on the edge of policy debates, as financial anxiety spreads across Europe, writes the FT’s Gillian Tett. But now, a new salvo has been fired into this debate from an unexpected source: the Bank of England. Earlier this week, the Bank released a paper on global capital flows written by three of its economists, William Speller, Gregory Thwaites and Michelle Wright, which draws heavily on earlier research by Andy Haldane, the Bank’s head of financial stability. It garnered little attention amid the eurozone dramas. But the message is sobering, important – and timely. For what the paper argues is that today’s financial turbulence might be merely a precursor of something even worse in the years ahead.

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