Simon English: At these dizzy heights, a boom started yesterday

Simon English
Thursday 23 February 2012 01:00

Outlook Rhodes 24 is a bar and restaurant in one of London's tallest buildings, Tower 42, on Old Broad Street in the heart of the City.

The view past the Gherkin and across the capital is spectacular. Money Town shimmers. If you keep going, scan the horizon and squint, you can almost see the class war.

Back inside, that war was won so long ago that the details are hazy (there was a war?) The cocktails are mixed by women who are not from Streatham. And if you're feeling hungry, the steamed halibut is £29. We'll go over that again. Small plate of fish, twenty nine quid. More than a few bankers work from Tower 42. Clients, they say, far from thinking their bankers' fees must be too high, are impressed by the location. And the view. And maybe the mixologists (not from Streatham).

For this crowd, economic downturns are mostly a theoretical construct. In any case, they say, this one is over. When does the next boom begin? "Yesterday," comes the reply.

Whatever asset you are thinking of acquiring – everything's either an asset or a liability (the wife's an asset, the mistress, a liability) – it will only be more expensive in a year's time.

This is a Londoncentric view for sure but it is taking a grip. The stock market is going like a train. Large companies are awash with cash on which they can no longer comfortably sit. That means deals, deals, deals.

One Tower 42 inhabitant has just had his office rent shoved up. He'd be annoyed, but it's a sign of demand, a sign of activity.

How much by? From 400 to 500, he says. I'm thinking, 500 quid a week sounds extremely reasonable. It's a small office, but I mean, the view, the mixologists.

Then I look at the menu again. He means £500,000 a year. Half a bar, just in rent. My suit suddenly looks cheap.

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