Market liquidity is the City of London’s trump card

Market liquidity is the City of London’s trump card

We all know that the outcome of the Brexit negotiations may well be – at least from the EU side – a balance between economic reality and political expediency. Nowhere is this more true than in the future of Europe’s financial capital markets where London is estimated to have an 80% share, built up over literally centuries through the City’s potent mix of networking, innovative products, low transaction costs and, above all, deep, liquid and transparent markets.

And nowhere are these markets more needed than on the continent of Europe, which faces governmental and corporate funding requirements on a humongous scale in the short and medium term. Furthermore, a fundamental objective of the EU’s Capital Markets Union (CMU) project is to use such liquidity to obtain a less systemically threatening balance between bank and other forms of debt. Even in the unlikely event of continental markets not fragmenting through rivalry, it could take at least a generation to replicate even a pale shadow of London’s financial ecosphere.

At the same time the British Government will no doubt pursue its growth agenda for its key financial services industry, whatever the Brexit negotiation outcome.  It will seek to continue to attract business and talent from the continent and globally, based on a favourable, competitive, start-up friendly approach to the environment and tax, using as much regulatory flexibility as possible, as well as nurturing innovation, not least in its world-beating fintech sector.

So it is that the combination of London’s current dominance in market liquidity and its probable future reinforcement hands the British Government a trump card.  The Financial Services Negotiation Forum (FSNForum) has today published a seminal report suggesting that these economic facts show that it is overwhelmingly in the EU’s interest to accommodate Britain by supporting at least this aspect of its financial services industry, by maintaining continued unfettered access to the City’s markets in return for the enhanced supervisory role over euro-denominated activities which seems to be currently being shaped at the negotiating table.

If EU politics overtrump this card, Britain’s growth agenda (in negotiation parlance its Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement or “BATNA”) will have well prepared the City to meet the challenges of continental competition. It will be able to continue to make the most of its huge other global opportunities, which it has so successfully exploited throughout the ages, as well as stave off the ever present threat from its longstanding rival across the Atlantic, New York.