Charlotte Street Partners



The economy of people-watching

Written by Maria Julia Pieraccioni, associate
Edited by Iain Gibson, associate partner

15 October 2021

Good morning,

For me, people-watching evokes images of wrinkled, headscarf-clad old ladies gossiping on the footsteps of southern European homes when I was younger. With my cousins, we used to joke there was nothing a CCTV could capture that an old lady could not. Yet, among the several ways social media has revolutionised our in-person social interactions, people-watching is the most significant by far.
One Instagram account in particular, @narpymemes, has become a generation’s delegated authority on everything people-watching, especially when it comes to the uber-wealthy. “Narpy”, according to the Urban Dictionary, is an “adjective used to describe the uberwealthy offspring of the world’s richest families. Typically educated in a Swiss boarding school but still prefers to ski in Verbier over Gstaad. Will have memberships at Annabel’s, 5 Hertford Street, Soho House. Probably attends Regents or LSE”.
On Wednesday, the account posted a meme picturing Olympic racers with the caption: “Narps today getting ready to prove they are at Frieze before normal people”. Below, the image read, “everyone needs to understand that Frieze is really just a one-day event. If you don’t go today, you are most definitely not narpy”.
Wednesday October 13 was the inauguration of Frieze London and Frieze Masters, two of the most sought-after and renowned global art fairs in London’s Regent Park. These fairs bring together a string of artists, both emerging and established, for a smorgasbord of art, decadence and people-watching. The who’s who of society’s upper echelons would have most definitely attended, if only by invitation from their personal buyer. In fact, the opening day is typically reserved for art investors, while the next four days are open to ticketed customers.
This year, Frieze returns as an in-person event, after sitting out in 2020 due to Covid limitations. In 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the UK’s cultural sector was one of the worst impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with revenues falling dramatically. The arts and entertainment industry alone saw a 44.5% reduction in monthly GDP output, while approximately 70% of workers in the sector were furloughed.
The return of the much-beloved Frieze marks a significant turn for the sector, albeit not without criticism.
Narpy-watching aside, the return of Frieze’s American cousin, Frieze New York, earlier this year was quickly met with criticism from those who surmised that it signalled a “return to… an art world catering mainly to the ultrarich, performing power and price-fixing in plain view”, according to just one article by Vulture. The coronavirus pandemic’s strain on the sector further complicated an already complex tension between art and money. Its return also reinforced the issue of tone-deafness: with many countries around the world still ravaged by the pandemic, and with a number still under some form of lockdown, is this glitzy display fit for purpose? Is it truly as contemporary as the art on show?


British GPs have condemned government demands for them to increase face-to-face appointments, saying it would fail to relieve the intense pressure on surgeries and exacerbate the chronic shortage of family doctors. In recent weeks, many government officials have made it clear they expect patient in-person visit to return to pre-pandemic levels, despite the continuing threat of Covid-19.
The bow-and-arrow attack in the Norwegian town of Kongsberg appears to have been an act of terrorism, according to Norway’s security service. The suspect, a Danish citizen accused of killing four women and a man on Wednesday, has been detained and is due to appear in court today.
Despite the ravaging supply chain crisis, chancellor Rishi Sunak has reassured customers that presents will be available at Christmas. The chancellor ruled out government help for businesses dealing with rising fuel costs, claiming it was not the government’s job to intervene by managing the price of individual products. (£)

Business and economy

CNG Group, a shipping services company that provides and arranges transportation of wholesale gas to several independent energy suppliers, has failed, according to a communique to its customers. The group’s collapse will add pressure to the energy emergency, causing fears among investors that several of its customers will follow suit. (£)
The UK treasury will keep the EU’s cap on bankers’ bonuses, according to industry insiders, and will instead focus on changing a range of other regulatory measures post-Brexit. The cap was introduced in the EU following the 2008 financial crash, but with Brexit, some analysts fear the City will be weakened, and unable to attract the best global talent, by keeping such a measure.
The majority of international chief financial officers expect the supply chain crisis to last well into 2022, according to a survey conducted by Duke University. In addition, many respondents claim the second most challenging difficulty companies will have to deal with in 2022 will be hiring, with many companies already raising wages by 10% to fill vacancies.

Columns of note

Jemima Kelly in the Financial Times writes that political authenticity has been stumped by a growing phenomenon that Hans-Georg Moeller, co-author of You and Your Profile: Identity After Authenticity, has dubbed “profilicity”. Especially in politics, Moeller has observed a fall in the value of real, authentic politicians in lieu of a ‘curated’ profile which seeks to anticipate and solicit the most positive possible responses. (£)
Ahead of COP26, John Kampfner in Tortoise Magazine argues that traditional diplomacy has failed to achieve meaningful climate cooperation between China and the United States, and that a new system must be put in place if climate pledges are to be respected. Kampfner notes that the conversation on climate action between the US and China has become the stage for a proxy war between the superpowers, each of which is using climate action as a leverage on a different source of contention. (£)

Cartoon source: The New Yorker


What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in the green on Thursday, as concerns about inflation temporarily eased. The FTSE 100 ended the day up 0.92%, while sterling gained 0.2% on the dollar to $1.368 and 0.21% on the euro to €1.18. However, the bounce back in the stock market may be short-lived, according to some investors, due to the looming energy crisis and rising energy prices. Yesterday saw the collapse of three more UK energy provides, highlighting the fact that prices will continue to rise for providers to stay in business.
In Europe, the pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 1.20% in early deals, with the German Dax rising by 1.40% and the Spanish Ibex gaining 0.49%. Investors seemingly put aside worries over inflationary pressures and supply-chain issues, focusing instead on positive CPI data from the United States.
Meanwhile in the US, the stock market enjoyed its best day since March, as investors eased their concerns over inflation and potential interest rate increases thanks to positive corporate earnings reports. The S&P 500 closed 1.7% higher than the day before, while the Nasdaq Composite ended the day adding 1.7%. Quarterly earnings posted by Citigroup and Bank of America led the uptick in the American stock market, beating analysts’ confidence estimates in borrowers’ abilities to repay.

What’s happening today?

Trading Announcements
Sabre Insur
Xps Pensions

Artemis Alpha
Marechale Cap.
Sabien Tech.
Twentyfour Inc

Sdic Power

Final Ex-Dividend Date
Close Bros
Gabelli Merger
Strategic Equity

Final Dividend Payment Date
Design Group
Panther Securities

Interim Ex-Dividend Date Thai
Air Partner
Bluefield Solar
Br.smaller Cos.
Br.small Co.2
Caledonia Min
Ediston Property
Howden Joinery
Invesco Bd In

M.p. Evans
Octopus Aim 2
Ruffer Inv. Co.
Securities Trust of Scotland
Twentyfour Sel
Xpediator Plc

Interim Dividend Payment Date
Braime Ord
Braime Holdings
Crest Nicholson
Macfarlane Group
Tt Electronics

Quarterly Ex-Dividend Date
Blackrock Lat A
Bmo Comm Prop
Jpm Jap Sml G&i
Middlefield Prf
Primary Health

Quarterly Payment Date
Xp Power
Yamana Gold

Special Ex-Dividend Date
Octopus Aim 2

International Economic Announcements
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Producer Price Index (US)
(13:30) Continuing Aims (US)

Interim Dividend Payment Date
Derwent London        
Epwin Grp      
Frenkel Topping         
Henry Boot     
Highcroft Inv. 
Jpmorgan G   
Jpmorgan I     
Keystone Law G.       
Melrose  3 Vct
Palace Capital
Quarterly Payment Date
Nb Global       
Regional Reit 
UK Economic Announcements
(00:01) RICS Housing Market Survey
Int. Economic Announcements
(10:00) Balance of Trade (EU)
(13:30) Retail Sales (US)
(13:30) Import and Export Price Indices (US)
(15:00) U. of Michigan Confidence (Prelim) (US)
(15:00) Business Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

In September, a bar-tailed godwit flew 8,100 miles for 239 hours without rest from Alaska to New Zealand and set the world record for the longest continual flight by any land bird by distance.
(source: @qikipedia)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

The House of Commons is in recess until 18 October 2021.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess until 18 October 2021.

Scottish parliament 

There is no scheduled business.

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