MICHAEL GOLDFARB I have lived in the British capital on and off since the early 1970s.
I have been here permanently since 1985.
In the Two-Thousand Noughties, London changed beyond recognition.
It became the most ethnically diverse city on earth and there is a veneer of wealth and comfort here that was unthinkable in the year 2000.
It would be churlish to say the changes have all been bad.
Neverhteless, most of that surface wealth was built on two fictions: that financers knew what they were doing and house prices would always go up.
I could take you about four miles from my front door to Canary Wharf and show you block after block of high rise apartment buildings 80 percent empty.
"Why were they built?" you would be right to ask.
The demand for housing in London is for family homes.
These vacant towers are mostly studio, not suitable for families.
So, why were they built? You didn't have to live in the monstrosity, just hold on to the flat for a year or two and sell it on.
That kind of sweet tax regime is just one more reason why London has become the world's financial capital.
And why as this low, dishonest decade ends, Britain remains in recession.
More than Iraq or Afghanistan, it was the madness of high finance and the attendant bubble in the housing market that will define this decade in history.
And one man will be at the centre of the histories written about it.
That is PM Brown.
For most of the decade he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Britain's equivalent to USA's Treasury Secretary.
Brown as chancellor was something like Britain's PM for domestic affairs.
While Blair was busy solving the world's problems, Brown was counting the pennies for domestic programmes.
The story really begins back in the 1990s, as Blair and Brown embraced the Third Way, the British Labour Party's adaptation of the Democrats' political philosophy of triangulation.
It was a brilliant method for winning elections via the big tent.
Everyone could feel there was something for them inside.
Heading into the 1997 election the Labour election machine re-branded itself "New Labour" and reached out to the financiers of the City of London, Britain's Wall Street.
"We are a different party," was the message.
No more high taxes and subsidising old industries.
Blair and Brown's chief electoral strategist, Lord Mandelson, told financiers that New Labour "was intensely relaxed about people being stinking rich.
" And so it turned out.
London became the world's financial centre.
Money flowed in; tax revenue did not flow out.
Soon financial services accounted for 20 percent of the British GDP.
All the money being generated in a few square miles of London needed some place to go and so was born the property boom.
It worked at first.
Britain has no tradition of renting homes.
People bought long-term leases on properties instead.
As a bubble formed in the housing market even people without real jobs living in the former industrial heartland of Britain found their dwellings had become an asset to trade or borrow on.
The same mad mortgage practices that attended US's housing bubble turned up in Britain.
Self-certified, or "liar's mortgages," were given to people with virtually no income, sometimes in the amount of 125 percent of the value of the property they were planning to buy and flip.
The tax man didn't get a whiff of the profits in this mania.
When I say this was a low, dishonest decade, I'm not referring just to the big players - everyone has to shoulder some blame for the mess.
Meanwhile, back in London, hedge funds and the investment wings of the big banks were buying into CDO's from the American housing bubble.
When, inevitably, the sub-prime mortgage crisis hit, the bubble burst.
As the decade ended, the city was back to its old tricks: Making money not by investment but by playing casino on the movements of markets.
There are fewer players now, so those left in the game are making more money than before.
But the Third Way is a deeply ingrained ideology - and Brown simply couldn't do what everyone knew was necessary: regulate and tax speculators.
That might drive them outside the big tent.
But it is too late.
As the low, dishonest decade ends Britain is still in recession, the only one of the major economies still contracting.
Unemployment is approaching the level it was when Labour came to power in 1997 with more to come.
The lessons of this decade have been hard.
Down in the city they clearly haven't been learned.
Brown has figured it out but his time is limited.
He must call an election next spring and the odds are against his winning.
And as for the rest of the country: - Khaleej Times