Swing Löw, Sweet Chariot


It's a good Monday to be German, although perhaps less so if you're in Buenos Aires right now.

Mario Götze's last-minute clincher at the Maracaña last night provided not only a thrilling conclusion to an epic World Cup of upsets and disappointments, but mainly put the British in the uncomfortable position of cheering their European neighbors, then hoping nobody noticed. And then doing it again.

As much as it's played up in the popular press, though, there isn't really that much animosity or rivalry between the British and the Germans any more, and there hasn't been for a long time. London may sniff and use the phrases "efficiency" or "superiority" as wilting pejoratives when it comes to describing our continental cousins, but overall, the two countries have gotten along for longer than ever before in their history. On an interpersonal level, the English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish can generally sit round a table with the Germans quite happily, and as everyone knows, the ability to share a beer is a good barometer of geopolitical tensions, right?

It's part of a wider move towards European integration, which although troubled on the political side, is proceeding apace on the economic stage. Projects such as Target2-Securities offer a centralized way of settling securities in European central bank money, moves to T+2 settlement harmonize the landscape, and there was even talk about a single European capital market the other day. How that would work in practice I'm not sure, given individual interests from the various nations that comprise Europe, but the fact that it's even being considered and discussed is telling. People have often said that business is blind to the concerns of nations, and for firms that have to service clients in multiple European areas, those concerns are often an annoyance. Harmonization is the goal.

The wildcard with this, as always, is London. It's always had one foot in Europe and one foot out, a stance that proves infuriating to federalists and appealing to nations like the US, particularly firms that can leverage their obligatory presence in the City to then passport services throughout the Union. Whether it moves further away from the EU, and Eurozone economic activity shifts to Paris or Frankfurt, or whether it stays in and London continues to exert its gravitational pull will have a strong effect on the future direction of regulation and technology.

But for now, congratulations to Joachim Löw's team, who thoroughly deserved to lift one of the most prized pieces of gold the world has ever seen, to one of the rarest noises ever heard in modern history ─ that of English throats shouting German praise.

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