In the dark days of the Second World War, the French generals, before surrendering to the Germans, advised Winston Churchill that "England would have her neck wrung like a chicken." More than a year later, after the British people had stoically withstood the worst that Hitler's Luftwaffe had to offer, Churchill responded, "Some chicken! Some neck!"
England's well-deserved reputation for fortitude in the face of adversity will serve it well in dealing with the recent tragedy of the London bomb attacks. We at The Motley Fool would like to express our sadness and send out our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.
On the day of the attacks, those of us at Fool headquarters in Alexandria, Va., as well as our far-flung writers, were relieved to learn that all of our colleagues at Fool UK were safe and sound. Like many Americans that morning, quite a few of us anxiously tried to make contact with friends and loved ones who live in London. Now, a week later, as the death toll continues to mount, we struggle to find the right words in offering condolences to Londoners, who, in typical fashion, have already gone back to living their lives.
It remains unclear how these attacks might affect financial markets in particular and the global economy more generally. After falling sharply on the day of the bombings, Britain's FTSE has returned to previous levels. The New York-based Dow Jones Industrial Average has actually increased during the last week.
As long-term investors, we are usually unconcerned about the short-term movements of various indexes. But the Sept. 11 attacks had wide-ranging and devastating effects on the global economy and capital markets. The loss of lives was the greatest cost. Increased unemployment, decreased tax revenues, and a sustained decline in consumer confidence were among the additional burdens that resulted from the attacks. It will be some time before we know the full extent of the impact. For now, it is necessary to reflect on the unbearable human losses resulting from this terrible event.
If my own claims to being a Londoner are somewhat tenuous, the same cannot be said of my son, who lived the first five years of his life there. His accent, which makes him sound vaguely like an Americanized Keith Richards, reminds my wife and me on a daily basis of his English "upbringing." While American in many ways, he still considers London his home and remains fond of rain, "football" (the one that we call soccer), and Action Man. Because of this deep and lasting connection, it has been extremely difficult for us to watch from afar as this bitter episode plays itself out.
In an age of increasing violence and sectarianism, London continues to offer hope to the rest of the world. Tolerant, diverse, and open, the city is a sanctuary for peoples from all over the globe. My wife, my son, and I were ourselves foreigners in London, and we experienced regularly the emotions common to all immigrants -- loneliness, anxiety, bewilderment. But Londoners welcomed us and accepted us, and soon we took up our place within the community. The people of London gave us much during those years, and we haven't forgotten them.