Trader Talk

London is booming, but the FTSE is falling behind

Market not expecting volatility just yet: Pisani

I'm just back from a week in London, and if you think New York shows signs of massive outside investment, you should visit London.

It is literally a different city from the insular place of 20 years ago. Whole swaths of the city have been completely rebuilt, much of it from the ground up.

The neighborhood I stayed in, Shoreditch in the East End, was traditionally a grimy, working-class neighborhood, the home of Jack the Ripper's murders and Dickens tours. The famous Old Spitalfields market, a rundown marketplace 30 years ago, has been completely redeveloped with tony shops and upscale pubs.

Everywhere, the influx of foreigners is evident. The cabs, the restaurants, and the stores were filled with Turks, Somalis, Ethiopians, Lithuanians, and Syrian employees. The famous Selfridge's department store looked like a United Nations meeting; I heard dozens of languages in a 20-minute walk around the four block-long floors.

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How they can afford the place is a mystery to me. It's still one of the most expensive cities in the world. A typical subway ride is about $8, depending on how far you go. A pint of bitters is roughly $7 to $9. Fish and chips in a small hole in the wall is $16.

Oddly, an Uber ride is a great deal—often less than $10.

Given how dynamic London has become, it's surprising the stock market is not doing better. The FTSE 100, a basket of the 100 largest firms listed on the London Stock Exchange, is the worst performing market in Europe this year, other than Greece.

Europe this year:

  • France: up 5.9 percent
  • Germany: up 2.9 percent
  • Spain: down 5.7 percent
  • U.K.: down 7.2 percent
  • Greece: down 19.7 percent