Comparing London and Frankfurt as World Cities: A Relational Study of Contemporary Urban Change
Funded by Anglo-German Foundation for the Study of Industrial Society (2000-2001)
Grant holders: P.J. Taylor, P. Meusburger (Heidelberg), J.V. Beaverstock
Research Associates: M. Hoyler (Heidelberg), K. Pain
I INTRODUCTION: CHANGING RELATIONS BETWEEN LONDON AND FRANKFURT
In this proposal we intend to compare the positions of Frankfurt and London as leading world cities in the global and European urban hierarchy. We are taking the opportunity to use key contemporary events - the launch of the euro and the location of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt - to monitor and analyse changing relations between the two cities. We intend to study the behaviour of finance and other advanced producer service firms to evaluate the relative performances of the two cities as prime nodes in the world city network. We use the concept of world city to mean the metropolitan concentration of advanced service firms which provide a global-scale service to their corporate customers.
(i) The rise of Frankfurt
The geography of uneven economic globalization is commonly viewed as a tripartite regional pattern consisting of a USA-led northern America, a German-led western and central Europe and a Japan-led Pacific Asia (see Dicken, 1998). In the world city literature these three regions are represented by New York, London and Tokyo in, for instance, continuous twenty four hour global financial markets (see Lee and Schmidt-Marwede, 1993; Pryke and Lee, 1995; Reed, 1981). Notice the discrepancy between state and city in the case of Europe. Whereas in northern America and Pacific Asia the world city is located within the leading nation economy, in western Europe it is the fourth largest economy, the UK, not what is by far the largest economy, Germany, which houses this region’s world city.
There are many good historical reasons for this geographical discrepancy - inter alia the much more balanced German city system with a greater division of control and command functions (Blotevogel and Hommel, 1980; Krätke, 1995) - but of particular interest today are the contemporary signs, which suggest a degree of locational readjustment away from London. Frankfurt is being mooted as a serious rival to London as Europe’s leading world city in the twenty first century (see, for instance, The Economist, 1998a; Schmitz 1999). It is the financial centre of the most powerful economy in Europe (Bördlein, 1999), and now, the undisputed international financial centre of the eurozone (The Financial Times, 1999). In the very recent past, three new opportunities for Frankfurt have strengthened its position in inter-city relations with London. First, in the international futures market the demise of LIFFE and the success of its Frankfurt counterpart, Deutsche Terminbörse, has shown a complacent City of London to be vulnerable to rapid technological change in market servicing (see Davies, 1998). Here, Frankfurt, is clearly in the ‘driving seat’ (The Economist, 1998b). Second, there is the political failure of the John Major administration to win location of the new European Central Bank (ECB) for London as Europe’s leading financial centre compounded, of course, by the German government’s success in having it located in Frankfurt (see Laulajainen, 1998). Although hardly a surprise given the UK government’s strained relations with its European partners, this triumph for Frankfurt is symbolically very important and, with the introduction of the euro, eleven countries will look to the German city for determining their national monetary policy. This was exemplified by the launch of the euro: Frankfurt at the centre with dignitaries celebrating and champagne flowing (FAZ, 1999a) and London on the periphery making last minute preparations for the new era. Third, foreign banks have begun to increase their presence in Frankfurt, but not necessarily at the expense of their activities in London (The Economist, 1998c). The latest estimates suggest that 360 banks and subsidiaries are now located in Frankfurt: a number which is continually increasing because of the benefits on being ‘close’ to the ECB (The Financial Times, 1999). Notable examples of banks consolidating in Frankfurt include, Deutsche Bank, which had centred its investment banking operations in London. They have recently developed a new Frankfurt euro-denominated debt business, which will soon outpace its London operation (Davies, 1998). Also, banks like Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and Paribas, for example, have all increased their Frankfurt equity research and sales teams, to support their euro activities (Bowley and Munchau, 1998).
Thus, Frankfurt is at a critical point with respect to its development as a world city, in relation to London. The agglomeration economies of its international finance, allied with the new opportunities that the ECB and Euro will bring to its traditional banking sector, will undoubtedly continue to significantly increase the number, concentration and global profile of such activities. But more importantly, as the city’s banking sector grows in number, importance and nationality, as London’s did during the post-war years, we can argue that the city’s non-banking producer service complex will also mushroom, as more specialised services are needed to support a higher concentration of banking and other financial services (for example accountancy, consultancy, insurance, law and real estate). At the heart of this research is evaluation of the value-added in the non-banking producer services to Frankfurt as a result of the city’s new position at the centre of ‘euroland’.
(ii) Overturning a world city hierarchy?
We must, however, be wary about jumping to conclusions about something as basic as reversing a global urban hierarchy from just three recent, albeit very important, events. It can be countered, for instance, that neither the US Federal Reserve Bank nor the main US futures markets are located in New York (they are in Washington, DC and Chicago, respectively) but this has hardly effected that city’s prime role in northern America (see Longcore and Rees, 1996; Markusen and Gwiasda, 1994). More important, in financial services, London, despite recent worries, nevertheless ‘towers over its European rivals’ (The Economist, 1998a, 17). But this is still not the full story of London’s dominance in the European urban hierarchy. The concept of world city is much broader than being an international financial centre (Llewelyn-Davies, 1996; Knox and Taylor 1995). Although provision of financial services on the world market is central to world city status, it involves much more than this, both economically and culturally. For the specific purposes of this study we follow Saskia Sassen’s (1991) economic definition in which the provision of advanced producer services (which includes financial services) is identified as the key distinguishing feature of world cities under conditions of globalization (thus she calls them ‘global cities’).
As a world city, London is truly global in scope to a degree that Frankfurt just does not match (see London Planning Advisory Committee, 1991). In our previous research on London as a world city we have shown Frankfurt to be far behind London on all our indicators; whereas London vies with New York for first place, Frankfurt comes in a second tier of world cities with the likes of Chicago (selected details of this research are provided in Tables 1 to 3 and Figure 1 shows the relative intensity of their world-wide servicing): confirming its position as a secondary financial centre (see Thrift, 1987; Reed, 1981). Although near the top of the ranking in terms of banking/finance, in other producer services Frankfurt ranks much lower. In two services where we have very good data in the form of numbers of practitioners of global firms working within cities, the London/Frankfurt ratios in numbers are over 5:1 and over 2:1 for legal services and accountancy respectively (see Table 1). Clearly, if there is to be a reversal in the ordering of western European world cities in the global hierarchy, Frankfurt still has a long way to go (see Figure 1 from Taylor (1999)).
(iii) A question of agglomeration and the producer service economy
Taking this broader world city perspective to investigating Frankfurt-London inter-city relations obviously suggests a dramatic reversal in the hierarchical positions of the two cities is unlikely. But this does not mean there will be no important changes in Frankfurt’s fortunes relative to London. Just as ‘Big Bang’ led to financial services expansion in London after 1986, the launch of the euro is expected to provide Frankfurt with a similar boost in the immediate future, especially given the closer links between the London Stock Exchange and Frankfurt Bourse (see Adams, 1998; Davies and Graham, 1998; Graham and Davies, 1998; The Economist, 1998d; FAZ 1999b). While there may be no wholesale migration of international financial services from London to Frankfurt, or significant ‘leakage’ in London’s hold on foreign banks, Frankfurt (and the Rhine-Main area) might accelerate its own processes of agglomeration in advanced producer services (Bördlein, 1993; Schamp, 1995; de Lange 1993). Combined with the existing strong German banking system centred on Frankfurt, this enhanced international financial prowess would certainly attract firms from the other producer services so that London’s agglomeration advantages would be lessened (Boland and Iskandar, 1998; The Financial Times, 1997; Munchau, 1999).
The question is: by how much? And in any case the rise of Frankfurt need not necessarily mean a decline for London. European cities, and the firms within them, cooperate as well as compete (Budd, 1998; Kampmann, 1997). For example, London law firms have been collaborating with their Frankfurt equivalents in a partial European front against aggressive US law firms (Beaverstock et al. 1999). In addition, it may well be the case that London can compensate by growth elsewhere on the basis of its existing global reach. But there are warning signs ahead for London. For example, in a 1996 survey of 500 European finance directors, 54 per cent believed that, if the UK did not join EMU, Frankfurt would become the main European financial centre by 2001 (Lapper and Tett, 1996; Laulajainen, 1998). However, it remains the case that London is able to compete with New York in servicing global capital in non-European regions such as Pacific Asia (e.g. providing legal services) in a way that Frankfurt just cannot do today or in the foreseeable future. This is not to suggest as simple geographical division - Frankfurt services Europe, London services Europe’s relations with the rest of the world - because contemporary communications enable a far greater complexity to evolve. But this does mean that we should begin the task of monitoring contemporary changes in the two cities to provide a new systematic analysis of the inter-city relations between Frankfurt and London. With the launch of the euro, and the positioning of the European Central Bank, the time is certainly ripe for such a study.
II RELATIONAL STUDIES OF WORLD CITIES
This project is part of an on-going research programme to aid in overcoming what we have identified as the ‘paradox of world cities research’, namely that whereas relations between world cities constitute their raison d’être, it is precisely the study of relations which is neglected in the literature. The reason is simple: the dearth of data on inter-city connections. Thus we know of no academic or policy study which considers relations between Frankfurt and London looking at, for instance, changing patterns of connections of the two cities within the network of world cities. The truth is that for all the theoretical rhetoric about a new ‘space of flows’ in an informational or network society (see Castells, 1997), there has been very little empirical research on such structures, especially at the trans-national level of world cities. There are important studies in the new economic geography of services which relate to world cities but the emphasis remains on the firms and not the cities (see Daniels, 1993). Similarly for studies of international financial centres, there has been important research on their activities but work on actual flows between cities is conspicuous by its absence (Engels and Thiessen, 1994; Budd, 1995; The Corporation of London, 1995; Drennan, 1996; Leyshon and Thrift, 1997; Laulajainen, 1998). In the world city literature itself, hierarchies implying relations between cities are evoked but little or no evidence for such organization is provided (Taylor, 1997). Typically economic rivalry between cities is handled through the comparative method using attributes of cities to compare one with the other (e.g. Llewelyn- Davies, 1996; Rebitzer, 1995). Again, such studies are important but they do not make up for having no information or analysis on relations between cities. (For a brief description of our overall promotion of inter-city relational research in the Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Research Group and Network, see http://www.lboro.ac.uk/gawc/).
Friedmann and Wolff (1982), and Friedmann (1986) began the current school of research on world cities with their proposals to study what he termed the process of world city formation. Our Sassen-inspired research focuses upon the geographical strategies of leading producer service firms, as evidenced by their world-wide patterns of offices, to identify the process of world city network formation. This study uses the relational approach and builds upon four closely associated world city relational studies, each funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) or Loughborough University:
(a) from the ‘geographical scope of London’ project (ESRC funded R000222050, 1997-8) we have basic data on London, Frankfurt and other relevant European cities which provide both a general framework and a source for hypotheses on similarities and differences between the two cities within the world city network, particularly in relation to different service sectors (evidence in tables are from this project);
(b) from the ‘New York/London responses to the Asian crisis’ project (ESRC funded R000222693, 1998-9) we have developed key contacts within the City of London and particular experience on current concerns within advanced producer services - although investigating Frankfurt-London inter-city relations was not part of our brief, all London interviewees have brought up the topic with no prompting and have provided us with a bonus in terms of some initial background and ideas (see part 4. below);
(c) from the ‘British expatriates in global financial centres’ project (ESRC funded L214252001, 1998-2000) key contacts have been developed within City of London, New York and Singapore banks, law and accountancy firms in order to investigate highly-skilled professional and managerial labour migration relations between world cities. With respect to the Frankfurt-London connections, an initial analysis of secondary material suggests that very short-term migration flows remain important globalization strategies of advanced producer service firms as they consolidate their presences, pre- and post-the euro launch.
(d) from the ‘Europe of cities’ project (1999), Michael Hoyler the GaWC Visiting Research Fellow from Heidelberg University, has undertaken statistical analyses of producer service connections among European cities including, of course, London and Frankfurt .
We propose direct personal continuity with projects (a-d) and (d) especially, by retaining Peter Taylor and Jonathan Beaverstock as the project leaders, and by employing Michael Hoyler as one of the Research Associates. Peter Meusburger, project leader in Heidelberg, contributes his expertise in the geography of knowledge and qualification, the mobility of the highly skilled, and the geography of labour markets.
From the experience of working on all of the above we have learned one major practical lesson. Although it is clear that this research must include the banking sector there is more choice on what other sectors to include. We know that accountancy and law are both sectors where we have been particularly successful in obtaining relevant data in the past and therefore we propose to focus on these two services here. In addition, this choice is strategically interesting because in terms of globalization tendencies they represent the two ends of the spectrum: accountancy is the most and law the least globalized of advanced producer services (Beaverstock, 1996; Beaverstock, Smith and Taylor, 1999). In addition we want to expand our range of services studied in this project by including insurance. Within both Frankfurt and London, accountancy, law and insurance are becoming very important facets of their world-cityness, in the European context especially.
III AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
There are three aims, two specific and one general:
(i) to understand the changing inter-city relations between Frankfurt and London within Europe in the first two years of the euro;
The objectives set to meet these aims are as follows:
(i) to monitor changes in advanced producer services in both Frankfurt and London, 1998-2001;
There are four methodologies employed to achieve our aims and objectives.
(i) Bringing findings from past researches to bare on the concerns of this project. From the ‘global scope of London’ project this will mean going back to the original office data and drawing out Frankfurt-London comparisons as well as updating the data to show changes. Here, the original office data was compiled from publicly available in official business and professional directories (e.g. The Bankers Almanac; Directory of Management Consultancy Firms; Directory of European Business; The International Law List; United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations), and transnational firms’ world wide web sites. From the ‘London/New York responses to the Asian crisis’ project a list of all interview references to Frankfurt-London inter-city relations will be compiled and analysed. From the ‘Europe of cities’ project, statistical indicators will be re-evaluated with respect to quantifying Frankfurt-London relations. This will provide a ‘before-euro’ base point for the London part of this project.
(ii) Compilation of knowledge in the public realm concerning Frankfurt-London inter-city relations. As well as using relevant official data (Eurostat, government information) as general context, this will involve a review of all Frankfurt and London stories in the Financial Times (http://www.ft.com/) and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (http://www.faz.de/) and in other prominent sources (e.g. The Economist) plus the leading ‘trade journals’ (e.g. The Banker, Investors Chronicle, Campaign, Advertising Age, International Accounting Bulletin) and burgeoning number of web sites (for firms and professional organizations) to produce an inventory of reported changes and their evaluation in both cities. This will be on-going and early results will feed into (iii) below. The inventory of this public discourse will finally be compared with our own empirical findings.
(iii) Semi-structured interviews in Frankfurt and London on Frankfurt-London relations. This is the main methodology used and replicates the one used in the ‘London/New York responses to the Asian crisis’ project. The basis of this methodology is to interview existing contacts with advanced producer service firms in London (banking and non-banking), and use Michael Hoyler (GaWC Visiting Research Fellow at Loughborough University and Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter at Heidelberg University) to make contact, and interview similar firms in Frankfurt. The rationale for using interview based research is twofold. First, it allows us to obtain in-depth information from specific firms which could not be obtained from more quantitative methods (i.e. taped-interviews can provide the researcher with a means of understanding process rather than generalisations). Second, linked to the first, interviews are a means of obtaining detailed empirical and qualitative information which can be used to supplement and verify data obtained from (i) and (ii) above. The planned interview schedule is as follows:
London - 10 banking and 15 other non-banking producer service firms (x2 censuses);
The banks to be interviewed will be selected from the latest list of the ‘Top European Banks’ (as published by The Banker journal), and the sample will be drawn from a 50% stratified random sample of the leading 20 banks in each city (as ranked by The Banker). Non-banking services (e.g. law, accountancy, management consultancy, advertising, insurance and other business services [e.g. executive search]) to be interviewed will be selected from their respective listings of top firms in each city. So for example, The International Law List directory will be used to identify the top six law firms in each city, and a 50% stratified random sampling framework would be adopted to interview three firms. In the other non-banking sectors identified above, the same sampling framework would be adopted, with the firm population drawn from the sectors’ leading firms in each category (e.g. (i) accountancy - Arthur Andersen; PWC; KPMG; Arthur Young; DTR (ii) management consultancy - Andersen Consulting; Ernst & Young; McKinsey & Co.; PWC Consulting; KPMG Consulting (iii) Advertising - Saatchi Group; Ogilvy Group; Rubicam Group; JWT Group; Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO). We intend to interview non-banking services in Frankfurt and London because they play a vital economic role in their respective city’s position as an international financial centre. Frankfurt is at a critical point with respect to its development as a world city, in relation to London. The agglomeration economies of its international finance, allied with the new opportunities that the ECB and Euro will bring to its traditional banking sector, will undoubtedly continue to significantly increase the number, concentration and global profile of such activities. But more importantly, as the city’s banking sector grows in number, importance and nationality, as London’s did during the post-war years, we can argue that the city’s non-banking producer service complex will also mushroom, as more specialised services are needed to support a higher concentration of banking and other financial services (for example accountancy, consultancy, insurance, law and real estate). Interviewing non-banking services will allow us to evaluate their value-added in Frankfurt’s new position as the centre of ‘euroland’, and as a major world city.
Each interview will explore with a senior member of the firm, with the grade of Partner and/or Vice-President and above, (i) the particular firm’s adjustment to the new euro with respect to Frankfurt-London inter-city relations, and (ii) their general perception of how their sector is responding to the euro with respect to Frankfurt-London relations. Interviews will be conducted at each firm on two occasions. The census periods for Frankfurt and London will be x and y to evaluate the situation one and two years after the launch of the euro.
(iv) Interactive interviews with regulators, professional bodies and state agencies. Early summaries of findings from both phases of interviews from (iii) will be used as the basis for presentation/discussion interviews to aid in evaluation and policy honing of the project. Professional organisations to be interview will include, for example, the Law Society, the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales; the Chartered Institute of Bankers; British Merchant Banking and Securities Houses Association and, the Corporation of London. Relevant organisations in Germany include the Bundesverband deutscher Banken, the Verband der Auslandsbanken in Deutschland e.V. and the Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer in Deutschland e.V. In addition, interviews will be undertaken with key informants from a variety of Government offices, including, for example, the Government Office for London, the DTI, DoE and the Bank of England. In Germany we will contact, among others, the Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie, the Stadt Frankfurt and the Deutsche Bundesbank. This will culminate in a ‘user’s forum’ in the final stages of the research.
V RESEARCH ASSOCIATES
To execute these research methodologies requires the employment of two research associates, one based in Loughborough and one in Heidelberg.
VI WORK PLAN
Michael Hoyler visited Loughborough University from May-October 1999 as a visiting fellow funded through the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities strategic fund to support GaWC. Part of his work at Loughborough involved preparing the groundwork for this project, and analysing Frankfurt-London inter-city relations with respect to producer services. In particular, it is expected that much of the work listed under methodology (i) will be completed before the formal start of the project in May 2000 and the inventory in methodology will be started. From this time the project sequence will be as follows:
(i) May - June 2000
complete past researches work and continue public knowledge inventory and prepare for the first census period (make necessary contacts in Frankfurt and London, test and agree interview outline) (as discussed in IIIi-ii)
(ii) June - August 2000 (first census period)
intensive field work in Frankfurt and London (as outlined in IIIiii)
(iii) August - October 2000
analyse interview results, carry out interactive Frankfurt and London interviews (as discussed in IIIiv), prepare preliminary papers for conference presentations and begin the public knowledge inventory (as discussed in IIIii)
(iv) October - December 2000
continue public knowledge inventory and prepare for second round of interviews (renew contacts, assess interview outline)
(v) December- February 2001 (second census period)
intensive field work in Frankfurt and London (as outlined in IIIiii)
(vi) February - March 2001
complete public knowledge inventory and analyse new interview results and compare to previous year, carry out interactive Frankfurt and London interviews (as discussed in IIIiv),
(vii) March - June 2001 (and beyond)
write up project as report, produce research papers for journal submission, organise a user’s forum (from among collaborating Frankfurt and London firms and government officials).
VII RESEARCH MANAGEMENT
Professors Peter Taylor and Peter Meusburger will be in overall charge of the research management of the project. Dr Jonathan V Beaverstock will take the role of co-project leader. Specific responsibility for the various sections of the work will be as follows.
(i) Past researches:
Peter Taylor with assistance of the Loughborough-based researcher and Michael Hoyler.
(ii) Public knowledge inventory:
Jon Beaverstock with the assistance of the Loughborough-based researcher and Michael Hoyler.
(iii) For the interviews:
Jon Beaverstock, who has a decade of experience in researching the City of London will oversee the London interviews (including the interactive ones), with the assistance of the Loughborough-based researcher;
Peter Meusburger will oversee the Frankfurt interviews (including the interactive ones), with the assistance of Michael Hoyler;
Peter Taylor and Peter Meusburger will oversee analyses and writing in which all will be involved;
(v) Dissemination to stakeholders
Jon Beaverstock will oversee the dissemination to relevant user groups, with assistance from the Loughborough-based researcher and Michael Hoyler.
In addition to the Research Report to the Foundation:
(i) publications in international refereed journals (e.g. Environment and Planning A, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Geographische Zeitschrift, Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie etc.);
(ii) seminar papers at British and German university Geography and other social science departments (e.g. International Relations; Urban Studies; Planning);
(iii) GaWC Research Bulletins to public and private sector users in Germany and Britain (e.g. Department of Trade and Industry); financial firms; professional bodies (e.g. Institute of Bankers) and other organisations (e.g. Corporation of London);
(iv) dissemination of all data and publications to all user groups via GaWC WWW site;
(v) press releases of findings to targeted media (e.g. The Financial Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Handelsblatt, Wirtschaftswoche);
(vi) other networking activities , to include: (a) extending the membership of GaWC to include new potential users groups from both academic and private/public sectors, at the national and international scale; (b) organising a ‘European World Cities at the Millennium’ Seminar Series, between selected UK and German academic institutions, and private/public sector users; (c) attendance, and participation in, relevant discussion groups and seminar series organised by both private and public users.
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Table 1: DEGREES OF WORLD CITY-NESS
12: LONDON, New York, Paris, Tokyo
10: Chicago, FRANKFURT, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Milan, Singapore
9: San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, Zurich
8: Brussels, Madrid, Mexico City, Sao Paulo
Table 2 FRANKFURT'S LINKS TO LONDON
Table 3 PRACTITIONERS WORKING FOR GLOBAL FIRMS IN LEADING EUROPEAN CITIES
Accountancy figures are for KPMG and Coopers and Lybrand; law figures are for 10 US firms with more than 20 foreign offices
Figure 1a: CODES FOR 55 WORLD CITIES IN 3 PAN-REGIONS
Figure 1b: INTENSITIES OF SERVICE PROVISION
For results of this project, see:
See also the unpublished conference papers which summarize the research project and provide the transcriptions of the launch discussions in London (Anglo-German Foundation, 19 Nov 2001) and Frankfurt (Finanzplatz e.V., 30 Jan 2002).
Financial Times 20 Nov 2001, Financial Times 24 Nov 2001, The Banker Dec 2001, FAZ.NET 30 Jan 2002, vwd 30 Jan 2002, Deutschlandfunk 31 Jan 2002, Financial Times Deutschland 31 Jan 2002, Frankfurter Rundschau online 31 Jan 2002, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 1 Feb 2002, Die Woche 8 Feb 2002, Die Zeit 14 Feb 2002, Neue Zürcher Zeitung 21 Feb 2002, deutsche horizonte April 2002, vision+money April 2002, British-German Review 20 (2) April 2002, Die Bank April 2002, Financial Times 12 June 2002, Frankfurter Neue Presse 19 Nov 2002, Rhein-Neckar Fernsehen, RNFplus: Campus TV 5 Dec 2002, Frankfurter Rundschau online 28 Jan 2003 (2x), Market Matters (Deutsche Börse Group) 6 March 2003, Handelsblatt 22 April 2003, Frankfurter Rundschau online 5 May 2004
9 June 2003 UK membership of the single currency: An assessment of the five economic tests published by HM Treasury