John Gapper

I am back in London again to pick up a prize and continue my ongoing comparison of my native city with the one where I live – New York.

As always, when arriving at London Bridge station this morning, I was reminded of T. S. Eliot’s lines from The Wasteland:

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.

Eliot once worked in Lloyds Bank as a clerk. I recall that Sir Jeremy Morse, the former chairman of the bank, had tears in his eyes when he recited those lines from memory in a valedictory speech.

Anyway, this morning they were as true as ever as I pushed through the crowds to board the Jubilee Line. A sign proclaimed that the line service was good but, as Bill Clinton might have said, that depends on the meaning of the word “good”. Read more

John Gapper

Having reviewed Richard Florida’s Whose Your City the other day, I am unusually alert to stories about people flocking to cities from suburbs and the countryside.

So this FT story this morning caught my eye. It is about a McKinsey Global Institute study of urbanisation in China and includes this paragraph: Read more

John Gapper

I am going to Davos for the World Economic Forum this week and will be blogging from there. If you see me, say hello.

John Gapper


Prompted by Jason Kottke, Steven Johnson and Richard Florida, who have all posted the list of cities they visited in 2007, I looked back to identify my own list. It is as follows: Read more

John Gapper

A final thought (for now) following my visit to the Gulf. Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of that strange and unconvincing region, Emea?

Emea stands for Europe, Middle East and Africa. It was popularised by US companies, which tended until recently to lump everything in the time zone around London and Paris together for the sake of geographical and managerial convenience.

Thus, a glance at Google discloses that AT&T, Microsoft and others still count Norway, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe as part of the same place.

This makes bureaucratic sense, in an Orwellian kind of way. I don’t mean totalitarianism but the fact that the world in 1984 was divided into Oceania, Eastasia and Eurania. Emea similarly allows multinational corporations to categorise the world into the Americas, Asia and that bit in between.

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John Gapper


Column on the Financial Times comment page. Read more

John Gapper

I am in Dubai this week to attend two conferences. This week is McKinsey’s annual strategy conference and next week is the FT/DIFC conference on world financial centres.

I have not been to Dubai before so I have the usual reactions of visitors to the place. It is an extraordinary accomplishment, but also a bizarre one. The rash of skyscrapers and beach hotels, including the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, where I had dinner tonight, is an astonishing sight.

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Richard Florida picks up my mention of the growing role of city-states in the global economy on his blog. He mentions an interesting study that suggests that 40 mega-regions with output of more than $100bn produce more than 66 per cent of world output.

Almost as interesting is that the study identifies economically powerful regions by night-time light emissions seen on satellite photographs. It is always fascinating to look at such photographs and see, for example, the dispiriting lack of night-time light across vast swathes of Africa.