My interest in economics started when I was 15. In the UK, Big Bang was making the stock market Big Business. I found a job at Morgan Grenfell & Co. Limited in 1989, not long after the 1987 Crash (it wasn’t the last one), not long before Sterling’s ill-fated entry into Europe’s Exchange Rate Mechanism (the forerunner of the Euro), and not long before Morgan Grenfell itself was bought by Deutsche Bank. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and, although East German GDP growth benefited from the Deutschemark’s reunification, West European GDP growth didn’t. But for the reunification, there might not be a Euro today. Recession struck most of the world in 1990: it was the last for some time but, sadly, not for ever.
My twenty-one years (and no watch!) at Deutsche Bank were never dull in more ways than one: booms; busts; crashes; collapses; pay; promotions; restructurings; reporting lines. I became (at various times) co-head of Global Economics, Chief Operating Officer for Research, and Associate Director of Equity Research. The teams won some lovely accolades along the way, most notably the #1 house for European, for Asian and for Emerging Market Equity Research. I know I played my part: for a time, we were really on a roll.
But by 2013, it had become time to move on. As two gentlemen of the Former Soviet Union once observed, not only was everything they had been taught about Communism revealed to be a lie; but everything they’d been taught about Capitalism had turned out to be true. Just because there were more crystal balls in the world, it didn’t mean that predictions in aggregate were getting any better. In 2014, a bill called the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act was introduced in the US Congress; it’s funny, but no one has suggested an Economic Forecasting Improvement Act yet, at least that I know of.
If the Top Note can make even a slight imprint on the world around it in the period ahead, I’ll be happy. I remember getting “Trivial Pursuit” for Christmas one year, and noticing the quote from Alexander Pope on the side of the box which read “What mighty contests rise from trivial things”. And as Marilyn Monroe once said: “Everything happens for a reason”.