New York City Still Financial Capital

By Daniel Indiviglio

Bloomberg reports on some poll results I find a little surprising: global financial professionals still pick New York City as the best place for financial services in the near-term. I have hypothesized that the City would fall from its pedestal because Manhattan bankers would pay the price for violating the trust of foreign investors who lost millions on U.S. investments. Moreover, I believed that the massive regulatory constraints that Washington was likely to place on Wall Street could cause it to lose its competitive edge. This poll says otherwise.

Here's the breakdown of the Bloomberg poll:

bloomberg poll 2009-10.PNG

Bloomberg surveyed 1,452 customers earlier this month. Respondents included investors, traders and analysts from six continents who subscribe to their Bloomberg terminal.

So what about my worries? In the article accompanying this poll, one respondent said the following about the regulatory environment in the U.S. vs. Europe:

"Americans will fight harder against politicians than those in Europe and stand a better chance of a compromise on regulation, taxes and populism," says poll respondent Richard Nolan, a strategist at the London brokerage firm Newedge Group. "So New York and London will suffer but I believe that London will suffer more."



And that's exactly what we're seeing. No regulatory measures have passed a year later after the climax of the crisis. What's more, the proposals offered aren't nearly as severe as some of the more drastic suggestions shouted during the height of the crisis.

So what of the U.S. "financial innovation" often blamed for bringing the global market to its knees? Another respondent says:

"Despite the carnage of 2008, I still expect the 'new new' thing in financial services to be developed and nurtured here, and ultimately exported to the world," says poll respondent Peter Rup, who manages more than $300 million at Artemis Wealth Advisors LLC and Orion Capital Management LLC in New York.



Of course, he's an American, but the point is well taken. The U.S. does still have some pretty impressive financial minds, so it may continue to lead financial innovation, for better or for worse.

Yet, I still think my broader thesis could be right. While New York may remain the most important financial center, it might still be a lot less important than it once was. I just don't believe as many foreign investors are going to be comfortable working with Americans if they got burned by U.S. products or services. The problem is that there aren't any better financial capitals to turn to. So outside of the U.S., more people might just choose to leave their money in domestic hands, rather than tangle with those crazy Americans on Wall Street.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/10/new-york-city-still-financial-capital/29361/