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Financial Feud: New York Vs. London

New York vs. London

The current debate over supremacy goes far beyond civic pride or national champions. Arguably, if money makes the world go round, then this is about the center of the universe -- or more preceisely, the world's financial capital. (A worthy enough pursuit such that Closing Bell's Maria Bartiromo went to London to find out.)Ancient history aside, money has often flowed freely between New York and London and excepting any bad feelings over the Nasdaq Stock Market's peristent and hostile efforts to acquire the London Stock Exchange, you could argue that determining supremacy is a bit of a moot point in the global economy.

That said, suddenly there is a lot of noise about which city rules. Both New York and London have seen better days as cities, but their financial muscle may -- ironically enough -- be at its zenith, with emerging markets -- particularly Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore -- generating and attracting more capital by the day.

So, in a more hyped-up context, New York Magazine recently asked "Are We No Longer The World's Financial Capital" as part of a bigger London-New York debate, citing such worrisome statistics as Goldman Sach's enormous U.K expansion in the past quarter century and a drought of big international IPOs on the New York Stock Exchange last year. (Did I hear Sarbanes-Oxley?")

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On a more academic note, but one could argue only a marginally more objective one, comes a March 20 survey by the Partnership for New York and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The report's innocuous title "New York, Tokyo, London, Paris: Cities of Opportunity? Stay Tuned" may suggest a loftier concern with global competitiveness but it does stoop to conquer -- so to speak -- by ranking cities in nine categories. They include a) intellectual capital and b) technology IQ and innovation and -- you guessed it -- financial clout.

Among the 11 cities studied, New York dominates the financial clout categories (London ranked second) but London was the top-ranked city in intellectual capital (New York ranked fourth).

New York's No 1. position was cemented by strength in two of the four categories -- the percentage of people employed in financial and business sectors and the martket capitalization of its stock exchanges. London ranked one in private equit deals, which includes venture capital, partly because that activity in the U.S. is not confined to one city given the role of a couple big name Silicon Valley players.

(For the nonpartisan out there, note that Tokyo has the most headquarters of the Global Fortune 500 companies and Shanghai ranked number 11 overall.) View the full report.

London has its own -- much lengthier -- survey saying the same. "The Global Financial Centres Survey" -- published by the City of London Corporation in March and "intended as a basis of discussion only" -- evaluates the competitiveness of 46 financial centers. The report's index shows that London leads New York in all five competitiveness categories: people, business environment, market access, infrastructure and general competitiveness. The big negative for New York cited by respondents -- regulation, namely Sarbanes-Oxley. For better or worse, the law meant to rid the world of WorldComs and Enrons will never prevent the BCCIs or Parmalats.

Kathryn Wylde, Partnership for NYC CEO and John Stuttard, Lord Mayor City of London, discuss the study's results with CNBC's Erin Burnett