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On the money

All a bit rich in the Hamptons

Well-heeled residents say there’s too much new money in the Hamptons. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Rich people in the Hamptons have a “new headache”, says Stephanie Krikorian in Vanity Fair – “even richer people”. There’s so much new money in town, it’s “nauseating”, says one longtime resident. “I’m a one-percenter, but I bear no resemblance to these people.” Foremost among the complaints is property price hikes. These days “no one flinches” at paying $150,000 a month to rent a house “that isn’t even beachside”.

Other excesses include an $88 salad at a restaurant in Montauk and reported $600 Uber rides between villages, thanks to surging demand from tourists. It’s hard to blame the restaurants, given staff shortages and rising grocery prices. “But it’s easy to blame those who will pay any amount for anything.”

The sales are on for UK plc

A combination of Brexit and Covid has beaten down British share prices, says Simon Duke in The Times, putting UK plc “on the discount rack”. Foreign buyers are swooping. Most are private equity funds, which have made bids for a record 13 UK-listed companies so far this year – a tally that’s set to rise as the haggling over the Morrisons supermarket chain enters its final throes. But trade buyers are also busy bargain-hunting. This week one of Britain’s most illustrious defence firms has been swept up in the tide of dealmaking. Aerospace supplier Meggitt, which dates back to 1850, when its founder invented the first altimeter for hot-air ballooning, has agreed to a £6.3bn buyout by its giant US rival Parker-Hannifin.

Top bankers expect more American “predators” to follow Parker’s lead. Compared to US and European stocks, the UK is “strikingly inexpensive”. The glaring mismatch between current prices and the long-term value of firms such as Meggitt leaves an “open goal” for foreign buyers with lots of cash. The US economy has rebounded much faster than the UK’s since the initial shock of Covid. “It’s not just private equity that’s sitting on a lot of dry powder,” says Investec analyst Rory Smith. Trade buyers have strong balance sheets too. “The animal spirits are running rampant” in boardrooms.

Big Tech’s academic cheerleaders

Just like Big Tobacco in the 1970s, Big Tech relies on “cultivating pockets of friendly academics” to argue its case, says the New Statesman. Since 2016, leading European think-tanks such as the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) have received millions in funding from companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft. One anonymous academic says the tech giants cultivate researchers already sympathetic to the cause by giving them access to “sought-after data”. Two-thirds of senior academics at the OII are directly funded by Google, including Luciano Floridi, an ethicist once described as the firm’s “in-house philosopher”. He insists that he works with “full academic freedom” and is not influenced by funders.