25 NOVEMBER 1955, Page 21


WINDFALLS ... ... Ian Forrest DOWNSTREAM ... • Edward Fortescue THE SECRET CITY ... Jeremiah Ashe BANKS AND BUDGE TS • Nicholas Davenport FLEET STREET ... ... Gerard Fay

Open the Gates!

THE CITY' no longer like a garment wears the sinister connotation it used to have for the public a quarter of a century ago, in the days when Sir Montagu Norman, in the intervals of roaming the world under various disguises, would give his resolutely wrong-headed advice to Governments. No longer is the bloated, top-hatted financier an object of alarm or derision; it is recognised that he has a !unction to perform — the lubrication of the machinery of Industry. But the ordinary citizen no more understands the process than he understands the lubrication system.of his car. This would not matter if the City, like the motor industry, could direct the public by advertising what to do and where to go. But although the City has recently been taking the first tentative steps to introduce itself to the general public, the Progress it has made in this direction—as Mr. Jeremiah Ashe says in his article—is still -pitifully inadequate.

As Mr. Ashe says, the Stock Exchange is Victorian and sunk in a middle-class rut. Unlike its US counterpart, it has made little attempt to attract the attention of the workers. Yet all the indications are that it could find in them an immense potential market; there is nothing fanciful in the notion that if the football pools have managed so quickly to exert so Powerful a hold on the public, the stock markets might also speedily become a popular preoccupation. Some firms have already given an introduction to their workers through profit- sharing schemes which provide them with company stock as a bonus. But the Stock Exchange as such has done little to attract them, and will continue to find difficulty in doing so until it realises that the ban on advertising, however necessary to preserve respectability in 1855, puts it at a grave dis- advantage a century later.

The secret City, in fact, needs to throw off its secrecy, and two of the five articles that follow are concerned to intro- duce it to people who have never, or only rarely, penetrated beyond Temple Bar. In addition to Mr. Ashe on the subject of the Stock Exchange's 'relations with the public, Mr. Ian Forrest deals with windfalls — what traditionally has been done, and what now can be done, by an investor who decides to break down a reluctance (far more widespread than the City cares to admit) to invest. Mr. Davenport considers the City's relationship with the State; Mr. Edward Fortescue describes some of the research that has been. and is being, done into the vagaries of the Thames for the benefit not only of the Port of London, but also of all who live on or near the river; and, the London Editor of the Manchester Guardian discusses the recent upheavals in the empires of the press.