First pawnbroker in a century opens beside London's elite banks


No sooner have the leaders departed the G20 meetings in London than proof has surfaced about just how bad the crisis is getting there. Something just appeared amongst the fine banking institutions and stock-trading houses of London City, where last week demonstrators were hurling computers through windows.

A new pawnbroker's, thought to be the first in a century, opened its doors on Bishopsgate, near the Bank of England, last month. The British newspapers, always quick with a sharp angle, announced the opening with a headline reading "Fat cats hock their diamonds."

The storefront once housed a recruitment consultant. Now, black-suited bankers use the premises to hock their fine jewelry, Rolexes, and diamonds from behind protective glass. The average loan is about ten times what suburban pawn shops give, but then again, the stakes are higher for Europe's former high rollers.