Tuesday, September 09, 2008

London's Reputation Tarnished

London's reputation as the world's leading financial centre was further tarnished yesterday when the London Stock Exchange suffered its worst systems failure in eight years, forcing it to suspend trading for seven hours.

To add to the woes of those trying to trade yesterday the crash happened on what would have been one of the busiest days of the year, hot on the heels of the news over the weekend that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had been bailed out.

A cynic might argue that the system was deliberately shut down, so as to avoid a massive spike in bank shares occurring.

Reuters quoted one trader as saying:

"We have the biggest takeover in the history of the known world ... and then we can't trade. It's terrible."

Another said:

"This halt today clearly has once again damaged (the LSE's) reputation as a leading exchange, especially on a day like today, highlighting that it may have been unable to handle the volumes this morning."

The LSE have not given an explanation for the crash, traders though are demanding an explanation.

LSE Chief Executive Clara Furse wrote to the FT on Monday, somewhat ironically, and said that the system used by the LSE was "the cutting edge".

This is just one of a string of issues that has tarnished the City's reputation. Other include; the endowment scandal, fat cat bonuses for failed executives, Northern Rock, excess bank and credit card charges, the mortgage drought, mis-selling of mortgages, PPI mis-selling etc.

The great and the good of the City should bear in mind that reputations are hard to earn, but easy to lose.

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