Opinion: The Shard - bubbles and when we lost a sense of reality
By Michael Baxter, editor of Investment and Business News
And so the tallest building in Europe was officially opened last week. Is that a reason to celebrate, or a reason to see arrogance?
The Shard does not merely stand, it shimmers too. Sometimes you can see its form appearing above the clouds, with its glass exterior almost camouflaged against London’s grey sky, it’s like a modern day Shangri La, mysterious and enticing; a metaphor for the glory of man.
Or is that a metaphor for hubris. Opened during the same week that Bob Diamond resigned from Barclays, it may serve as a reminder that when we try to walk in the footsteps of Gods, the wax holding our feathers together may melt, and we may fall to Earth, crashing like a giant ego ejected from the soaring deceit that was LIBOR manipulation.
If you are familiar with the story of grand buildings, right now your senses may be assaulted by a strong impression of déjà vu. When it was opened in 1908, the Singer building was the tallest in the world, but in New York citizens had other things on their minds, for this was the year of a bankers’ crisis, when stock markets crashed 50 per cent.
21 years later, work began on another building. The Empire State was finally opened in 1931 (it took just 15 months to complete, from start to finish). Was it a monument to our victory over nature, or a symbol of the madness of the times when its planning was begun, when the gap between the very rich and the rest grew, when greed permeated Wall Street, when stocks soared almost as high as the Empire State itself, before that is the crash of 1929, and the Great Depression?
Forward wind the clock to... continued on page two >