More than £3.4 trillion of foreign exchange trading takes place in London each day
The City of London statistics are almost impossible to comprehend because of their scale. In an area not much bigger than two square miles - one in the traditional City around St Paul’s Cathedral and the other further down the Thames in the modern skyscrapers of Canary Wharf - traders, investors and financiers invest and manage £4.8 trillion worth of funds, oversee £60 billion of insurance premiums, and trade more than 1 billion contracts a year. It is little surprise then that there are 251 foreign banks with branches in London.
Where once dark warehouses packed into narrow alleyways alongside the river’s wharves, and docks exuded exotic smells of tobacco, tea and animal hides, by the 1980s they were transformed into desirable and expensive apartments. The riverside slowly became fashionable and London turned to face and celebrate its mighty river.
Today there is hardly a warehouse left to be renovated and Canary Wharf is a powerful symbol of success. And yet, one or two streets back from the river you can still see a stark contrast to the shiny new progress, with run down social housing, industrial remnants and high unemployment.