Rathbones Review Summer 2019

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,” Hamlet observed, “than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Fast-forward from the Danish royal court of the Middle Ages to the boardrooms of the 21st century and we find this sentiment resonating perhaps more strikingly than ever before.

Today heaven and earth alike are increasingly in thrall to two phenomena that neither Shakespeare nor his tragic prince could have dared imagine: the power of market forces and the innovative brilliance of technology companies. Both are now in evidence not just all around us but far above us, with space recently emerging as a new and dramatic frontier for cutting-edge private enterprise.

Whereas a handful of government-funded agencies were once alone in reaching for the stars, the trailblazers in this sphere are now tech billionaires. As in any business arena, the advent of entrepreneurship brings the promise of both risk and reward. We explain how the unfolding commercialisation of the cosmos is giving rise to legislative, regulatory and political questions and unprecedented investment opportunities.

Meanwhile, back on terra firma, the UK’s High Streets continue their struggle to adapt in the face of another tech-driven shift: the relentless ascent of online shopping. In this edition’s lead article we explore efforts to revive the traditional retail experience in the face of this seemingly irresistible threat.

Other topics include the complex world of “urban mining”, the search for new antibiotics, the renaissance of prefab housing and the chequered history of the world’s most famous doll. We also examine changing dietary habits, the “rewilding” of the natural environment, the cost of later-life care and the continued rise of sustainable investing, as well as surveying this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize shortlist.

As Hamlet also remarked: “Words, words, words.” We hope you enjoy every one of them.

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