Paris got ahead of itself. Ever since the start of Brexit and the tortuous negotiations of the British government, the victorious chants about the future place Paris will occupy in the Pantheon of global financial centres have been getting louder. Barely a day passes in which I don't see a post with over 500 likes on LinkedIn that's singing the praises of the City of Lights.
Except for now, the Gilet Jaunes movement has injected a necessary dose of reality into this utopia. It's about time - things were getting ridiculous.
In the past few days, my colleagues in London have been stupefied to discover the context of the French city that was supposed to be the new platform for the financial monsters currently residing in the City, Canary Wharf and Mayfair.
The image of the desecrated, massacred, Arc de Triomphe has been around all our desks - To say nothing of the burned cars and the destroyed shops. What has shocked people here even more than the damage are the locations. - The Champs Élysées, the Avenue Kléber, the Trocadéro, the Place Vendôme... These are the addresses which bankers in London think of when they consider moving to Paris.
Which bank will want to place its sign in Paris after carnage of this magnitude? It's already very difficult for foreign banks to navigate the French bureaucracy. Must they also face the risk of a civil war?
Anyone who would make Paris Europe's financial centre needs to understand that the first foundation has to be political stability. Brexit has shaken the stability of London, but Paris has made itself seem worse by appearing to be a war zone.
The British prime minister, Theresa May, is unpopular, but London is not in flames under her leadership. While cars are burning in Paris, London is strengthening its claim to be one of the world's major financial centres. - And Paris is showing itself to be in a totally different league.
Paul Deschamps is a French trader working in the City of London
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