As my friends of a certain age will understand, I often lose things. Do I lose things more than I did when I was a youth? I’m not sure. But anyway, the solution is always the same – you need to know where things are.
That’s not as easy as it used to be. Take for example “off-shore shore analysts.” Where are they? They are not sitting next to you, that is for sure. So, if you are in an office in New York, and you deal with an analyst in your firm’s London office, is that analyst off-shore? No way. How about you call your company’s tax structure in the Virgin Islands. Is that person off-shore? Maybe, but not in the way that your India-based analyst support is “off-shore”. There is a lot of shore in India, and a good deal of it seems to be regarded as ‘off’.
What about “near-shore”? That is slightly clearer than off-shore. To a City of London firm, Birmingham is “near-shore.” That’s one of my favourites, since I was born in Birmingham and then went to the City, so I was born nearby but not quite there. I wonder where ‘there’ is? This puts me in mind of Chrystia Freeland’s brilliant book Plutocrats, where she suggests that they are generally born in the provinces and then come to the big lights, your local hedge fund billionaire is, in his or her bones, near-shore.
Surely we are on firmer ground when we stand “on-shore.” In Europe is that the Square Mile? I think the dreaming spires of Canary Wharf might have an issue with that. Edinburgh, Leeds? Et Paris, und Frankfurt? Where is this place?! And in America, the island of the Manhatto sure (or parts thereof), Chicago, Dallas? All those analysts in places like Salt Lake City – on, or near-shore?
Good English words often come out of America (American English – a dialect of English, unlike Indian English, which is more of a creole apparently). One of those excellent words is “right-shore”. That rocks. It responds to our need to be in the right place. It seems, though, that modern capital markets, with their global ubiquity, are all over the place, in the best possible way. Sadly for our current geographical enquiry, the right place is a not a place at all but a state of mind. Oh dear.
We send emails everywhere. The internet is accessible in more and more places around the world. We all have a phone in our pockets as well as on our desks. When you need to look someone in an eye, an airplane ride will make that happen. In the end then, it may be that we should be agnostic regarding what shore we stand on. We all have to navigate the same sea. Good analysis, well timed, well put and well explained, is valuable wherever it comes from.