Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Lloyd’s of London, Tuesday 9th April

As guest of the Chairman, Chris Skinner, I attended the Financial Services Club Annual Keynote Dinner at Lloyd’s of London at One Lime Street. Designed by the acclaimed architect Lord Richard Rogers, the Lloyd's Building still stands out as one of the most unique landmarks on the City’s skyline. With a contemporary Cafe Bar juxtaposed with the classic elegance of the Old Library where the dinner was held, dining at Lloyd’s for me has always been a great pleasure.  Lord Levene, former Lord Mayor and a previous Chairman of Lloyd’s, had regularly hosted for me whilst I was CEO of the Industry and Parliament Trust.  For those many parliamentarians who lacked knowledge of how Lloyd’s worked, it was an essential part of their valuable and necessary induction into the City.  In earlier years I had also variously arranged for Vince Cable and David Laws to speak to the FS Club at annual dinners in this spectacular venue.

The guest speakers were Professor Grzegorz Kolodko, former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland and my favourite and most knowledgeable speaker on the EU, Graham Bishop, consultant, speaker and writer of many books on the subject of Europe. The subject of the Meeting was: The future for Europe and the Euro: whither Europe? 
Professor Grzegorz Kolodko is one of the world's leading authorities on economics and development policy and a key architect of Poland's successful economic reforms. He communicated his strong views on the current, possibly bleak, situation for the future of Europe. He is the author of nearly 40 books published in 23 languages on the subject, with his most successful work to date being Truth, Errors and Lies: Politics and Economics in a Volatile World. In this the Professor applies his far-reaching knowledge to the past and future of the world economy, introducing a framework for understanding our global situation that transcends any single discipline or paradigm. While serving as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in Poland from 1994-1997 the Professor helped lead Poland into the OECD and, holding the same positions again in 2002-2003, he played an important role in Poland's integration with the European Union. Effectively the third most prominent politician in Poland through the last two decades, he is renowned for his economic thinking.  More to the point, we were all presented with a signed copy of his book which by reputation provides remarkable insights into the future of Europe and the euro.
Graham Bishop provided a response to Professor Kolodko’s speech in his usual highly informed and relaxed style. Graham was a member of the European Commission's Consultative Group on the Impact of the Euro on Capital Markets (called the Giovannini Group). He was also a Member of the Commission's Strategy Group on Financial Services responsible for creating the Financial Services Action Plan, and the Committee of Independent Experts on the preparation of the changeover to the single currency. Since 2005 Graham has been on the Board of the so called Kangaroo Group.
These two very knowledgeable speakers were timely in making generous tributes to Baroness Thatcher as the doyen of Europe, who had died the previous day.  My own main recollection of the great lady was that I was told many years ago on good authority, that she always carried a copy of the Maastricht Treaty in her handbag! Perhaps to give the handbag more weight if used in anger.
At the dinner, the Marketors were represented not just by me but also by Freeman George Ryder.

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