A Movable Financial Feast

Despite the financial crisis, New York and London, still lead all rankings of the world's financial centers. But Asian financial centers are closing the gap, and, unless the US and Britain call a truce between the state and the markets soon, those markets may move elsewhere.

LONDON – There was a time when league tables were to be found only on the sports pages of newspapers. Now they are a global obsession.

There are school and university league tables, rankings of companies on profitability or corporate social responsibility, tables of happiness indicators by country, and tables that attempt to rank consumer brands by value. There is even a league table of the world’s funniest jokes (I did not laugh much).

The financial world is also full of such rankings. Investment bankers wait with bated breath for the merger and acquisition league tables, even though the link between a high ranking and profitability is somewhere between loose and non-existent. Bank league tables have been with us for a while, and now tend to be based on capital strength, rather than asset volume, which is an improvement of sorts, but still not very meaningful.

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