Tower Bridge and the Tower of London Castle, January 2009.

Tower Bridge by night. For location in Google Panoramio, see [1].

Three days in London, staying in a hotel in the financial district, very close to the Tower Bridge and Tower of London Castle, an old prison. Could come in handy, there should be a few Bernie ”maddog” Madoff's in London as well.

Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge was made in the late 19th century and is disappointing, especially nearby. Surrounded by modern buildings, you can't take a decent picture. At night the spot lights are too bright and I had to use a large number of underexposed pictures to get the one above. The spanners are made of typical 19th century steel which seems out of place sitting between the bombastic Victorian, classical-style towers. When you walk across, you barely notice the two majestic towers, overpowered by the noise of busy traffic, hammering on the steel roadway.

Tower of London castle / prison

The Tower of London Castle is an impressive building, about half a km across, surrounded by a wide moat, now empty. It has been used as a prison in the 15th, 16th and 17th century and as a safe place for local rulers to keep the common people, or mob, out during riots.

One of the prisoners was Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1405 – 14 March 1471) who collected old saga from the early Middle Ages. He popularizing the saga of King Arthur by writing it down during his prison term, also know as “Le Morte d'Arthur”. Another prisoner was Queen Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) who survived her stay my a life-long exile in a monastory. The most famous prisoner was Tomas Moore. He did not survive the Tower and was beheaded in 1535 when he refused to sign the Act of Supremacy that declared King Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Quality in such prisons are very good in terms of creating hardship. They do this in various prisons around the world to make criminals suffer and think twice to repeat their crime. At the same time it gives off a stiff warning for others. E.g. Egypt has the lowest crime rate in the world but the harshest prison system.

In the past the correlation wasn't that strong, when life is tough, like in the 16th and 17th century, what do you do, stay hungry or act by stealing. You will only reach 40 years of age anyway, not a long period and why stay hungry.

Finance district

Not sure what is happening in the financial district, it is busy as ever until 7 PM. However, business types in the hotel seem to be nervous.

“How can we get them to believe us”, said two Canadians from Quebec in the hotel Japanese restaurant, speaking Quebeqois French and English alternately; the young overweight quant was wearing a black T-shirt and a middle aged grey-haired business type in a grey suite. They were selling software for forecasting insurance risk and seemed sharp talkers.

Good question, these days it will be even harder, businesses are more careful. They don't believe cheap talk anymore and they never should have done this in the first place.

Since the year 2000 trends were suppose to be different. Now you could make money out of money. The 40 year in average increase of 2% for property and 4% for stocks was passée.

Targets on the managed captical past 2000 were 2%, up from less than 0.5-1% before 2000. And when your leverage is 50, you make a 100% profit on your own capitalization. However, it is not wise to squander this in luxurious things and salary costs, often called bonuses. Even the maffia, who makes similar percentages of profits, is a much wiser spender and they also know that such profits are not sustainable for long.

“Cash is king” and is back “in”. Loans are “out”. Risk cannot be quantified or covered in terms of keeping money on the side, called leverage. What is risky, 10, 15, 20, 30 or 50? At 50 leverage and 2% defaults you are broke. The only guarantee is good behaviour, a characteristic of a civilized society.

Making money out of money by charging a substantial interest of “fee” is not possible without creating ahvoc. All major religions in the world, including Christianity, Moslims and Jews, have this as one of their core principles.


London is often called Manhattan-on-Thames, lacking a proper name, this is all what the business community could come up with. After the London Underground bombing of 2003 you could hear “Londonistan” but at the same time the influx of easy money from Russia gave a more appropriate name of “Londongrad”, a few rich Russians served by low-income servants. Now with the “too much credit given out and we want it back” crisis hitting London very hard, it is also referred to as Reykjavik-on-Thames. Leverage is bad, up to 50, and total loans of banks in England is five times the GDP of Britain. Holland has four times. Iceland had eight and went already bust.

Reinstate the prison?

The Tower of London Castle should be made more useful in our troubled time. There must be lots of financial vagabonds working here in London and they have gone way passed being a steady ”gentlemen” banker. When hefty profits can be made, criminals appear seemingly out of nowhere, so-called honest people turn into crooks but of course they never could be trusted in the first place

Financial “farming” is a strange business, a life so simple you don't need to understand what is going in the current crisis, why it happened and what to do to fix it. But it is not a lack of understanding but a lack of interest that may be exactly the problem. See reflective thoughts.

In “farming” you create something. In “financial farming” you just skim off a portion by trading but rarely create anything.

Tower Bridge by day.

Tower of London with the moat, now dry.

Tower of London, entrance.

Tower of London, description.