The new Mayor of London has taken his position and Sadiq Khan must now make good on the various promises he made during his campaigning. We look at some areas of the capital that we believe warrant attention.
Good Morning, Mr. Mayor!
Well done Mr. Mayor! And may I wish you a successful mayoralty. The Mayor of London, as opposed to the traditional Lord Mayor of the City of London, does actually have some considerable powers, but not really as many as the mayors of some of the large U.S. cities like New York, where the Mayor is as powerful as the Governor. If you were being unfair, you could rather rudely accuse our new Mayor of being an overtitled London Transport official, with a few other powers and influence over either local authorities or central government. However, what is important, is his profile and role in representing and promoting London as a thriving, thrusting commercial hub for Europe and, for certain finance sectors, a global centre of expertise and trade - in foreign exchange for example.
So, whatever his political background, the Mayor must ensure that our areas of success and effectiveness are not just protected, but promoted and enhanced. The Brexit vote therefore will be at the heart of his actions and policies. Key to his leadership is to exude an air of confidence, especially at a time when the UK economy has been showing signs of slowing growth.
"Whatever his political background, the Mayor must ensure that our areas of success and effectiveness are not just protected, but promoted and enhanced."
He must also ensure that the "other country" of London is recognised as being very different from the rest of the Union and the rest of England. This, of course, is not all good, as we see with the pressure on housing and infrastructure. Here Mayor Kahn will need to be on the front foot in terms of developing initiatives. Obviously, housing was a core issue for all the candidates, and some bold actions are needed here, but so is the case with transport. Now whilst cycling is healthy and useful, the wasteful attitude of Khan’s predecessor on bike super highways only played to a popular media story and the 4% of the London population who cycle regularly. The other 96% probably now need a greater level of attention.
This is not just about Crossrail 2 (running north to south), which will be vital, but also the development of the feeder towns around the capital which will eventually enjoy easier access. In addition, the vital investment in fibre broadband capacity across the greater London area will help to generate more business in more areas, and not just in the overhyped "silicon roundabout" of Old Street.
From housing to infrastructure, Mayor Kahn has a full agenda, and, hopefully this time, we might get more progress and less hot air than we have had from his predecessor over recent years.
Not dead drunk, but drunk looking after the dead.
Anyone who has experienced driving in Bangkok, even as a passenger will know that it is certainly not something for the faint-hearted. The traditional Songkran holiday is a time when the population heaves and moves with families returning to their country roots for their New Year celebrations. Thus, in a celebratory mood and fueled with alcohol, car drivers and helmet-less motorcyclists speed around, while the revelers suffer a high casualty rate and some significant fatalities. During this period, it is estimated that 2.3 people die and a further 160 are injured every hour. The period has even achieved its own title to mark the peak of horror: "the Seven Dangerous Days". 2016 saw those injuries and fatalities increase on previous years.
So, the government took action and impounded the cars of the guilty drivers, but, feeling that this was not enough, went a stage further. For some shock treatment, they decided that drivers should also be made to work in the morgue for the holiday period just to show them how they could have ended up and what they done to others.
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And finally...some Russian diplomacy is wearing a little thin.
A Russian company is trying to cash in on the chilly relations between Moscow and Washington by releasing an ice cream branded "Little Obama" and, not unsurprisingly, irritating U.S. officials.
The product, called "Obamka" in Russian, is glazed with chocolate and its wrapping features an image of a smiling young African boy wearing an ear ring and holding an ice cream.
With relations already at a post-Cold War low due to Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and its military intervention in Syria, Russian state media and pro-Kremlin activists have often berated and mocked President Barack Obama in terms that U.S. officials have described as racist and insulting.
The company that makes the ice cream, Slavitsa, said in a statement that it was part of a range aimed at children featuring "cheerful" characters.
"With different flavours and glazes, the ice cream symbolises the main races of people on our planet," it said, adding that the picture of the boy had been inspired by a Soviet film.
"Ice cream names need to be memorable. For those with a rich imagination, various associations might arise, but this product is for children and is a long way from politics."
A U.S. official, who declined to be named because of the subject's sensitivity, told Reuters he saw the ice cream as part of a disturbing pattern.
"While I haven’t seen this particular product for sale, we are disappointed by the media-driven anti- Americanism that has become so prevalent in Russia over the past few years, particularly when it takes on a discriminatory or racist bent," the official said.
Slavitsa is based in Krasnoyarsk, a Siberian city that hit the headlines last month after a café dedicated to Vladimir Putin opened there, luring visitors with dozens of pictures of the Russian president.
The café features Obama's face on the toilet paper in its restrooms, while toilet mats bear the colours of the U.S. flag. Subtle eh! Perhaps they could introduce similar items for our own Boris.
Have a good week.
Justin Urquhart Stewart
Seven Investment Management
Justin Urquhart Stewart is one of the most recognisable and trusted market commentators on television, radio and in the press. Originally trained as a lawyer he has observed the Investment industry for 30 years whilst in corporate banking and stockbroking, and has developed a unique understanding of the market’s roles and benefits for the private investor.
This article represents a personal and light-hearted view from 7IM, and is based on current financial news and events around the world. Its content should not be used for investment purposes and you should contact an independent financial adviser before making any investment or financial decision.
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