U.K. Recovery Must Not Breed New Gordon Gekkos, Johnson Says

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the U.K.’s economic recovery should not breed a new generation of “Gordon Gekkos” epitomizing the spirit of 1980s greed, as he called for a U.S.-style approach to charitable giving.

“I hope that this time the Gordon Gekkos of London are conspicuous not just for their greed –- valid motivator though greed may be for economic progress –- as for what they give and do for the rest of the population, many of whom have experienced real falls in their incomes over the last five years,” Johnson said in a speech in London yesterday, referring to the 1987 movie Wall Street.

“If there is to be a boom in the 20-teens, I hope it is one that is marked by a genuine sense of community and acts of prodigious philanthropy, and I wish the snob value and prestige that the Americans attach to the act of giving would somehow manifest itself here,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who has repeatedly defended the wealth-creation capacity of London’s financial district, said the capital’s economy could grow by 4 percent next year. That compares with the 2.4 percent expansion the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts for the country as a whole.

In the speech honoring the work of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Johnson called for measures to promote social mobility of the poorest. Some, he suggested, may not have the ability regardless of the possibilities.

“No one can ignore the harshness of that competition, or the inequality that it inevitably accentuates,” he said. “And I am afraid that violent economic centrifuge is operating on human beings who are already very far from equal in raw ability, if not spiritual worth.”

Johnson used the speech to criticize Tory Prime Minister David Cameron’s planned north-south rail link, or HS2, saying Thatcher “would understand the capacity argument for HS2, though she might get it cheaper and get a bigger contribution from business.”

He also said Thatcher would have had the “cojones” to build a hub airport for the U.K., a decision Cameron has deferred until after the election in 2015.

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