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Rebuilding banks and the City

Robert Peston | 08:45 UK time, Thursday, 7 May 2009

If turkeys don't vote for Christmas, you wouldn't expect British bankers and City of London executives to demand costly new rules from Brussels, or higher tax rates or that their banks should be dismantled.

So in a way it's unremarkable that a committee of City grandees chaired by the former chairman of Citigroup Sir Win Bischoff wants the UK government to take a leading role in shaping new EU rules, and is opposed to the idea of forcing banks to slim down and specialise.

City workers, London

Also, they insist that the tax system should be stable and predictable.

If there's any kind of controversy about the proposals, I guess it will stem in part from the following excerpt, which is one of the committee's arguments against breaking up banking conglomerates: "The provision of housing finance for individuals or pensions for tomorrow, or of insurance against potential risks for businesses or finance at cost effective rates for their expansion might require the synergies of the combined models."


On housing finance, think subprime and collateralised debt obligations - and ask yourself whether innovation by banking conglomerates has added or detracted from human welfare in recent years.

Here's the thing. The committee was set up by the Chancellor, Alistair Darling. And there's therefore an implication that he endorses what they want.

Which matters. Since it demonstrates that he disagrees with the governor of the Bank of England - who says there is a case for breaking up banks into separate retail and investment operations

And it might suggest Mr Darling concedes that recently the UK hasn't perhaps done enough to shape EU financial proposals, especially those seeking to constrain hedge funds and private equity firms.

But what on earth does it imply about Mr Darling's attitude to tax - since it was only last month that he announced an increase in the top rate of tax and a reduction in relief on pension contributions for high earners, or measures seen in the City as damaging the competitiveness of their industry.

As for what kind of Christmas banks can expect this year, well it's all looking a lot less gloomy than they would have expected a few months ago.

Their shares have trebled and quadrupled over the past few weeks.

Statements today by Barclays and Lloyds indicate that banks should be over the worst.

In the case of both, recession-generated losses on lending to vulnerable companies and individuals are rising - as is inevitable.

But in the case of Lloyds, it has more than enough capital and insurance protection from taxpayers to cope (even though losses generated by corporate lending by HBOS, which it bought in those fraught and controversial circumstances, are still rising in a wince-making way).

Lloyds' core tier one capital ratio is a super-strong 14.5%, which should be enough to withstand anything but economic Armageddon.

For Barclays - as for a number of global banks in investment banking and wholesale banking - it's difficult to see in its figures that the global economy is in a spot of bother.

Its pre-tax profits have risen 15% to £1.4bn in the first three months of the year, even though the contribution from retail and commercial banking has fallen 45%.

However, the early months of this year have been a boom time for investment banks and for banks that help the very biggest companies to raise money.

Barclays has done trebly well, having had the gumption to buy Lehman's US operations for next to nothing last autumn (after the US investment bank collapsed with such damaging consequences for almost everyone on the planet).

The profit of Barclays' investment banking and investment management operations rose a staggering 189% to £1.1bn.


Any minute now we'll start to hear complaints not that our banks are almost bust, but that they're making far too much.

Actually, we're not there yet.

But in another year or two - after the removal of excess capacity, a widening of margins and a fall in loan losses - banking will again be a very very profitable business.


  • Comment number 1.

    Well Banking is a cartel and basically a monopoly.
    Barclays and the rest of them have been squeezing their customers (at all levels) without shame it seems, hence their newly announced profits.

    You don't think for a minute that they have altered their business practices ands got more efficient do you?
    Nope, they have just trebled their margins without batting an eyelid.

    Where is the courage to reform the system?

  • Comment number 2.


    I listened to Lord Myners on Radio 4 this morning.

    Looks like there wont be any chance of a UK equivalent of Glass-Steagall act to separate the risky investment banks from the plain vanilla retail banks. He is very much of mind to recover the status quo and get the financial business back to how it was pre the crunch; without implementing too many changes to what he believes is an industry that can regulate itself. I am aware that he comes from humble beginnings, which only makes me even more disappointed with this rather shallow pedant man. He seems to be oblivious to the root causes of the crash, or maybe the more cynical would think hes simply just ignoring them. He is blatantly protecting the corrupt industry that has not only endowed him with great personal wealthbut that has also brought this country to its knees.

    Hes carefully cultivated an image as a bit of a philanthropist over recent yearsbut he clearly hasnt forgotten on which side his bread is buttered. Hes clearly another spiv politician who believes that this country survives only to serve the financial industry in the city and that banking is solely in place to be served by wider societyrather than the other way round.

    As another poster recently remarked, it is worth remembering, government, banking, and the judiciary make up the three legs that are the support of the establishments milking stool. You cannot criticise one without threatening the others or without threatening to dethrone the establishment who continue to milk the general public. It will come as no surprise to those who understand Westminster and its unwritten rules, that nearly all senior politicians come from either the judiciary or the city, they serve as politicians, then retire into fat salaried banking positions.

    The question for those of us being milked by this endless self sustaining system, is how much longer do we put up with it?

  • Comment number 3.

    It's always the way, after the bust comes a smaller boom. And of course the big banks are fine, they've weathered the storm and come out on top with extra areas to expand into, now that some of their competitors have left the market. I think we all know who we need to start banking with...

  • Comment number 4.

    How upsetting that one of the only banks making serious money is the one we don't actually own. Typical.

    Fair play to them with regards to Lehman bros though- you can't really fault them. Their purchase makes a mockery of Lloyd's inheritance- lame HBOS seems more of an anvil around their neck rather than a golden egg. It never really looked like anything else.

    The key here is surely to distinguish between wholesale and retail banking, investment management and more traditional banking products. Retail banking is a dead duck whilst the investment management business booms? What effect on Libor? Will this begin a trickle down effect to retail borrowing liquidity or if that going to be forever banished to the dark ages?

  • Comment number 5.

    The divide is clear between the Private sector and the public sector once again. The real story today is hobbled Lloyds stuck with a dog business versus private owned barclays flying off into a Goldman Sachs type existence.

    This does not bode well for the UK taxpayer, if our state owned bansk just get whipped commercially by the private sector - when we will we ever get our money back?

  • Comment number 6.

    This will be a major test for Brown's integrity. He told us that the banks had to start working for us and not themselves.

    If he and Ally allow British bankers and City of London executives to have their way then they will be telling our European social market chums to get stuffed. It will also alienate huge swathes of the UK populace.

    The Govt has to get the banking system under control and that also means reforming the Treasury which is my mind acts simply as an extension of the City anyway.

  • Comment number 7.

    Robert, mate, we may need to rebuild in the desert.

    It's worth considering.

  • Comment number 8.

    We are saved! Aren't we?

  • Comment number 9.

    #2. BankSlickerminustheR wrote:

    "I listened to Lord Myners on Radio 4 this morning."

    So did I... and what immediately struck me is that he represents the tip of an iceberg of city bankers who have not only apparently 'stolen' their investors' money but are now intent on apparently 'stealing' the taxpayers money too.

    Either the Banks are in a poor bankrupt condition or they are not. If, as Lord Myners, maintained they are all OK and nothing needs to be done in the way of regulatory change then why did they 'need' money from the taxpayers? On the other hand, as they apparently needed money from the taxpayers, then how can they be all OK?

    The only possible conclusion is that the bankers have pulled a massive confidence trick on the taxpayers in the last six months and their poor condition is a scam and a continuation of their normal 'commercial' activities. Not content with scamming each other with their hugely 'innovative' gambles they are now intent on scamming the taxpayer too.

    We must let them go bust and not bail them out if they maintain, through Lord Myners, that everything is just fine. Further more, we must demand our money back now - or of course Lord Myers should be sacked! (His appearance on 'Today' did sound a bit like a suicide note!)

  • Comment number 10.

    Sigh. So round we go again then...?
    Some years ago, I was treasure hunting in a large field. I looked up to see a car pull up next to my mountain bike that I'd chained to the fence. Two guys jumped out, sawed through the fence, threw my bike in the trunk, and drove off (leaving me with a 5 mile walk to get home). They even got my lunch too, the gits.
    I will always remember my intense indignation, anger and the feelings of utter powerlessness. I couldn't do a thing to stop them - it was too far away. I just had to watch while they helped themselves to "my stuff" and drove off scott free. Grrr!
    The banks, the bail-outs, the pensions and the ongoing fat-cat greed has me feeling *exactly* the same way!

  • Comment number 11.

    of course the banks have not changed, not long ago they were bust beyond belief, the taxpayer stuffed them with billions and six months later they are producing record well it is easy, because the collapse in interest rates has just increased their profit margins.... For one reason or another i have a lot of money on deposit in the UK (i dont live there) my bank is giving me 2.5%, as a test i asked my "personal banker" what interest he would charge me for a loan... he said 12.5% (for borrowing my own money!!)
    so the bank has a margin of 500%.... does any other business manage to have such a margin? No wonder they are making record profits....

  • Comment number 12.

    Splitting banks would make no difference:

    Northern Rock - a retail bank only.
    Lehman Brothers - an investment bank only

    These are just two of the many examples.

  • Comment number 13.

    I like the comment "Also, they insist that the tax system should be stable and predictable". Presumably the tax system is first made fair, so that those who make most from society also contribute most back into society. That rather implies that the government first gets its own books in order and becomes efficient so it does not need to collect an excessive amount of tax in the first place. Then we can have a stable tax system - so long as the banks do not create a financial meltdown and rely on the taxpayer to bail them out again.

  • Comment number 14.

    Well hallelujah to that. We'll get most of our money back and won't be quite as deep a hole as we thought. I won't let the urge for revenge against bankers overshadow the fact that we all depend on them.

  • Comment number 15.

    Looks as if new Labour is taking a long time to die off judging by Darlings equivocation about the regulation of the City. How can any sane person flick over what has just happened to UK when Stephanie next door suggests we wont get our pensions for another five years. The action of the Banks should be criminalised and for pensions of £700K pa directors should be personally responsible for their negligent actions. Sensible Labour would ensure not only there is tough regulation but that a substantial part of the banking industry should be in public ownership.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm surprised you don't cast your eyes over RBS too

    Barclays has proved that Capitalism works, and that it was best placed to steer clear of Brown's offers

    It managed to pick up a cheap asset at a fire sale, and many of its other losses were insured

    The fact that Barclays is confident about returning to dividend payments later this year says much for its position and standing. How long before it off shores?

    What we should now be looking at is the ability of the rest of the zombie banks to actually compete with Barclays and HSBC

    I fear that in the post Brown period we will have to recognise that the form of hobbling part privatisation has simply ensured that it is the UK tax payer that will be paying the liabilities for many decades to come, and the zombie banks still have their day of reckoning on the fire sale block yet to come

  • Comment number 17.

    As per an earlier poster, the banks are making and will continue to make money by simply inflating the charges they make yo us the public who bailed them out. It has not and i frankly fear will not make them change their business models or practices. Unless and until we change the rules surrounding business this sad state of affairs will continue.

    What I mean here is that the current position of banks and their overpaid execs is that making money is the raison detre of the business community and explicitly making more this year than last and even more next year than this...

    As long as this culture, paradigm and behaviour exist then the status quo will not change. We need an entire cultural change away from the Gordon Gecko mentality "greed is good" and the associted behaviours to a more a more holistic paradigm that recognises business is about providing goods and services to consumers and profit is the RESULT of successfully achieving that not the REASON for it.
    This may sound Naïve, but it is where business started from and how it was run before it became the preserve of so called professionals who's onley motive is profit and who's moral compasses are loong lost...
    I know I kknow, a lone voice and all that, but think about it, let change begin with me!!

  • Comment number 18.

    And the Barclays results no doubt mean a rocketing share price? Hang on a minute, they seem to be DOWN a bit. Maybe there's actually something nasty lurking underneath those blousy profits?

    "Nice?" to see the establishment showing its true colours. If they were to do the decent thing and bring in some Regulation, they wouldn't be the banker's friends anymore and so might not share in all that money sloshing round the banks!

    But so what if a few million lose their jobs? Ordinary folk just don't care a jot if millions like them lose their jobs, their homes, their pensions; at least until your 70?

    We've been well and truly rooked but the really ugly prospect is that a few million people think the answer is to vote Tory, (or even Labour, again!)

    The answer could be to think about who better to vote for or, go down to your bank take out the most massive loan you possibly can and run....

  • Comment number 19.

    12. At 10:30am on 07 May 2009, yam750 wrote:
    'Splitting banks would make no difference:

    Northern Rock - a retail bank only.
    Lehman Brothers - an investment bank only

    These are just two of the many examples.'

    YOU JUST DON'T GEDDIT...DO YOU! (or do you just happen to work for a bank?)

  • Comment number 20.

    #18. spareusthelies wrote:

    "And the Barclays results no doubt mean a rocketing share price? Hang on a minute, they seem to be DOWN a bit. Maybe there's actually something nasty lurking underneath those blousy profits?"

    Or perhaps the results were already fully discounted in the market? Barclays' share price is almost flat today.

    #19. BankSlickerminustheR wrote:

    "YOU JUST DON'T GEDDIT...DO YOU! (or do you just happen to work for a bank?)"

    So anyone who disagrees with BankSlickerminustheR either doesn't "GEDDIT" or works for a bank? Why not argue your case rather than redely dismiss those who hold different opinions?

  • Comment number 21.

    With the weird surge in the market at them moment at what point will the taxpayer start making a profit on its various bank holdings? Can't remember what price Government paid for RBS and Northern Rock?

  • Comment number 22.

    #2 BankSlickerminustheR asks how how much longer do we put up we being milked by this endless self sustaining system?

    The answer is; until the people have the courage and the wit to demand change and preferably, some new banks.

  • Comment number 23.

    In the last month I maded an online purchase using my Barclaycard. The goods weren't sent stating that the card was invalid. However the card was okay and they took the money and have steadfastly refused to refund it. So I went to Barclaycard and wrote a full report and got a few lines back saying they were not prepared to help. So I have now wiped thousands off my limit and intend in the next few months to dispense with Barclaycard Visa. So if they're making fat profits they won't be making on me and better still when/if the crooks have a go at stealing they might find my card pretty useless. Thanks Barclaycard and stuff you too!

  • Comment number 24.

    #16. StrongholdBarricades wrote:

    "Barclays has proved that Capitalism works, and that it was best placed to steer clear of Brown's offers..."

    But I don't think that RBS was in a position to raise the sort of capital that was required to keep it afloat. There was, quite simply, no option other than to accept the government's money if the bank was to avoid bankruptcy.

    It is easy to forget that Barclays' very existence was also hanging by a thread a couple of months ago, and its shares fell to a level that reflected the very precarious position that it was in. As it turned out, its decision to chase private investors' money rather than public money paid off handsomely, but it could easily have gone the other way. And its shares have rocketed by 500% in a couple of months.

    I am confident that the publicly-owned banks will soon start turning a handsome profit too (banking will once again be a licence to print money), and the government will see a significant profit on its investment.

  • Comment number 25.

    When Barings Bank went bust in 1995 it was sad, but it didn't threaten my life savings or my company's life savings. Our life savings were deposited with commercial banks, who protected their depositors by being risk averse in their lending. Barings was a merchant bank and enjoyed risk taking. Therefore, we had a balance between risk takers and risk avoiders within the finance industry. The two were separate. You could split your investment portfolio between the two, according to how much risk/return you liked.

    If merchant/investment banks are mixed up with commercial/retail banks then households and businesses have little choice as to risk when it comes to their deposits.

    Maybe we should all move our deposits to the building societies, but even they have to make a disproportionate contribution to the banking compensation scheme......

  • Comment number 26.

    Keep covering this one, Robert.

    We need to seize the moment here and ensure that there is firstly a complete overhaul of the laws of disclosure by all financial institutions (i.e. we absolutely need 'open book' banking on a scale never before contemplated), and then secondly, new laws limiting how big banks can become and how complicated they can get (so not only are we able to understand what risks they are taking, but.... so their own managers can as well!..... and so they can go bust of course without threatening the system and getting us tied up in that 'moral hazard'). These two measures are the ONLY major ones that need to be implemented!

    I am incensed that this ridiculous Labour government - the one I genuinely thought stood for absolutely everyone's interests - looks like it is going to deliver us, the people, once again into the hands of the bankers in the City, so we continue to subsidise their betting and own self aggrandisement.

    Those words you quoted from this Committee of ....."the provision of housing finance etc etc ......might require the synergies of the combined models"

    It's laughable!

    What the Committee really meant was ...."The protection of me and my friends' bonuses here in the City and our ability to continue to earn huge amounts of money without ourselves taking any risks at all (unlike those millions of small business owners in the UK, and yes I'm one of them).... WILL be based on us having access to the majority of the people's money in the UK, and in therefore convincing the authorities that synergies really do exist in a combined model..... even though we know perfectly well that they are imaginary"

    Robert, is there any data on this? Can you or anyone point to any hard evidence that such synergies do exist?

    I think, um, we can all point to some hard evidence that these so called 'synergies' are in fact negative.....

    Maybe the Bankers Association would like to pipe up again here and give us some more of the cosy group of regulator/bankers 'self-interested' view?

  • Comment number 27.

    A stable tax system? Would that be a fair, stable tax system? We all knew the report would be in the interest of the bankers the minute it was established; never in the public interest.

    So while the bankers live the high life, the public are up to their ears in it for generations. Someone remind me why that happened?

    The brass neck of these folk is beyond belief. Are we becooming immune to it after having those necks on display so often?

    Darling's intentions are clear: not one pair of handcuffs have been used. Yet millions are out of work, facing or have been repo'd. Just watch the screams about the cost of the welfare state will be here soon; we'll all forget about the expensive welfare given to these banks and massive tax-dodging companies. All those benefits handed out to the under-paid employees of profitable businesses, like bank cleaners will be ignored. Watch and learn how to rip off a whole country.

    Just watch what jobs Darling gets when he is no longer in office. New Labour or Tories in disguise....

    The whole political system is rotten to the core, and we all know it.

  • Comment number 28.

    it is clear that the City cannot continue as before.
    It risks bankrupting us all.
    It is also clear that the public will not accept the previous levels of City remuneration.
    Without public support they would ALL have gone bust.
    Every bank share would be worth
    The 0.5 per cent base rate is an unnatural situation, provided by the government, so that the banks can rebuild on very high margins (at the cost to savers).
    I'm in favour of breaking up the banks, and "doing a Lehmans" on those who fail.
    The public will only support the UK retail operations in future.
    I also believe that a special tax levy should be applied to all City profits, salaries, bonuses and pensions.
    The industry, for decades over-praised and over-valued by successive governments should be the principal contributor to the bail-out costs.
    The "wealth-creator" tag is a's just another important industry, like so many others (who are not wildly-overpaid).

  • Comment number 29.

    #19. BankSlickerminustheR wrote:

    "YOU JUST DON'T GEDDIT...DO YOU! (or do you just happen to work for a bank?)"

    So please explain so I do get to see how you see it.

  • Comment number 30.

    #17 PJB4712 is not a lone voice.

    It is absolutely right that the nub of this crisis is the collapse of the ethical approach to banking (or other services). I guess this started with Mrs Thatcher's "There is no such thing a society" which removed any social constraint on greed, and the pursuit of self-interest.

    The problem is that once the social fabric is ripped up it cannot be stitched back together. No-one feels the need to abide by any social mores and there is no moral 'magnetic field' for peoples' compasses anyway.

    In such an environment, the idea of "self-regulation" and "light touch regulation" cannot be seen as serving anyone but the bankers themselves. The depressing thing is that the Government appears to be listening to them - any not to the paying public who are currently being asked to bail out Government and Banks alike.

    You either learn from history or you repeat it: and the only way to prevent a repeat of this mess would be to separate retail banking out so that our money and our mortgages aren't caught up in the next bubble: and so that next time around the gamblers pick up their own losses.

  • Comment number 31.

    My word this is unconscionable!

    Think about it people! Please think.

    How can a sector that caused this mess in the first place through a varitable monopoly of the financial system be trusted to act in your best interests?

    Profit is not the best drive for morality.

    The CEO's, Politicians, Lords, Chairpersons don't give a damn about you. You are just a number. the sooner we break this farcicle system of monetary smoke and mirrors the better for all.

    Growth is not sustainable, social mobility is a pipe dream and class equality is a joke.

    I will take Armageddon eh? Well hang on I'll go get the horsemen their saddles.

  • Comment number 32.

    Banks are the servents of capitalism NOT vice-e-versa.

    HMG wants the tax's from a fiticious boom to pay for the real bust.

    Maybe we need some Direct Action Banking going on. with people moving there account to those Vanilla Banks or just start some up.

    I'm game to get one going ? any takers

    That would be real capitalism.

    BTW The SQ mile is NOT real capitalism its a carbuncle on the side. And we are about to get reforms from people that do not understand real capitalism.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hello Bob Banks Blog Peston ,

    no response to blog comments as over on stephanies page. She is very innovative in that area, even identifiying them. Bravo to here.

    looked at the titles of 80% of your most reasent blogs and they all have the word "bank" in them.

    me thinks this is subtifuge and leading us away from some of the real issues. As many will not read the post at a later day but just look at the chapter headings etc. Dear Joe and Nickita would be proud of that

  • Comment number 34.

    Frankly I am having difficulty understanding this new-found euphoria over banking stocks.

    Unemployment is still rising at 100K a month - thats an awful lot of new mortgage and credit card defaults on top of the continued loss in household equity.

    The fact that the rate of fall in GDP has slowed slightly is not the same as the start of a recovery. If I get a flat tyre the rate at which air escapes will drop with time, but that does not mean the tyre will ever magically reflate.

    The only reason things don't seem to be getting worse just now is that the Govt is still able to borrow money to pay the public sector. Once it can no longer borrow any more you will see the bond markets crash and interest rates rise dramatically. This will then spark another massive downturn in equity markets.

    I get the impression that the recent bear market rally has all just been engineered in order to catch those private investors who they didn't completely fleece the first time round. The total abject despair and capitulation is yet to come.

  • Comment number 35.

    re "risk insurance".
    I've never really believed in this.
    We've seen fom AIG that insurance companies can only cope up to certain levels, but when the ceiling falls in, they collapse.
    They offer only a false sense of security.
    The taxpayer would still end up as ultimate guarantor, and the EU must recognise that this cannot continue.
    Or how about if the EU pay for the bank bail-out?

  • Comment number 36.

    Well now that everything is hunky dory with the banks it's time to sell the taxpayers shares stop guaranteeing their bad debts and tell them to pay back what they owe the taxpayers.

    Stop the quantitive easing no further need for more government borrowing put interest rates back up to a realistic level and we are back where we started.

    So was it a fuss over nothing?

    Or is it the end of the first phase before the full blown depression?

    Replacing monopoly money with printed money is a temporary fix which will cost us all dearly down the line. Whem it doesn't work there will be further temptation to keep on doing it to pay for pensions and benefits and bigger public services and so on and so on. None of us will have to work cos' Gordon will keep on borrowing and printing money and who is going to stop him? He's still got a year left to wreck what's left.

    If you think this post is cynical you're probably right.

  • Comment number 37.

    Usual Brown trick. He has milked the tax paying savers of any interest and banks now have a wide profit margin. It looks good until the music stops again (which will not be long ) but in the meantime Brown gets his cake (our money at ZERO interest) and the headlines from the banks.

    Shame it also needs the BOE to print another 50 BILLION to prop the headlines up again !

    A TOTAL con of the taxpayer yet again and debts for our Children and their children.

    My advice to the kids is claim what you can, save nothing, pay as little to the government as possible and when you get old and sick, let the government look after you because its little good trying to save and look after yourself.
    A shambles from the biggest shambolic Government this country has ever had

    Had enough

  • Comment number 38.

    it shows that the banks wont reform their methods without government regulation but the government it seems are afraid of the banks,
    thus catch 22.
    we mere mortals end up paying in the end.

  • Comment number 39.

    Your blogpost today resonates with another current BBC business news story "Mortgage lenders relax loan terms" ( Never mind long term major changes to bank regulations - how are we going to stop getting into a position where there is too much inappropriate debt? The above story basically justifies relaxed loan terms on getting more market share - fair enough but the other side of that is opening lending to people that might be able to ill afford it - particularly when interest rates go up again. How are we going to manage this now to avoid increased problems in the future?

  • Comment number 40.

    Robert whilst congratulating not forget it is the same management team that were only a heartbeat away from buying ABN Amro ....possibly the worst deal of the century....

  • Comment number 41.

    Is this real profit that Lloyds have made, or are they just moving taxpayers money around so that it looks that way? I can't believe that they have payed back all of the money that they were given by the treasury only a few months ago. It sounds like a case of creative accounting to me.

  • Comment number 42.

    Barclays were prepared to buy ABN on the same terms as RBS and as such had to stand down to what was seen as a better offer by them - more foll RBS.

    Barclays have also not borrowed from the government in the same way as RBS and Lloyds as some of the other posters have pointed out. They have chosen to go else where. Whether that be good or bad it does mean that they are not obligated to the taxpayer.

    I wish I had bought some Barclays shares when they were 59p - ooops is that the same attitiude as those supposedly greedy bankers (well the few at the top maybe!).

  • Comment number 43.

    If only we had more like Lord Lawson, governing the Country !

    Bring the Troops Home from the afgan/Pakistan war,

    A hard man for a hard job is needed in number 10 and 11

    not public schoolboys with no experience

    He would sort out the Banks and balance the Countrys Books.

  • Comment number 44.

    #40 - the deal that RBS made to buy RBS was the worst deal of the century but it was nothing like the deal that Barclays were proposing.

    The Barclays bid was based on share swaps and placed a realistic value on the bid target. RBS then jumped in with a far more generous cash offer while Barclays sensibly refused to increase their offer from the original value. As share prices slid the RBS offer looked more and more ridiculous even without the benefit of hindsight.

    Barclays should be congratulated on behaving sensibly during the process and not allowing ego to drive them into overpaying. There were plenty of commentators at the time suggesting they should increase their offer but they stood firm.

  • Comment number 45.

    re creative accounting is an example by citigroup...

    More than half of fixed-income revenue came from a $2.5 billion write-up, thanks to an accounting rule tied to credit default swap positions on Citigroup's own debt. The rule exploits the notion that a company could buy back its own besieged bonds on the cheap, leading -- however bewilderingly -- to profit.

    In other words, Citigroup was able to book a massive profit because investors are betting that's it's still on a road to bankruptcy. There are only two probable outcomes from this paradoxical situation: Investors are right, and Citi is heading for failure, or investors are wrong, and Citi's $2.5 billion illusory profit will disappear. Either way, it's absurd to call this "earnings" in any way, shape, or form. But hey, profit is profit, especially in the eyes of gullible investors willing to bid your stock up a few hundred p

  • Comment number 46.

    Myners is wrong and clearly can't see the wood from the trees. Labour is on the way out so why are we bothering listening to clueless hasbeens For the past 12 years its all been spin and mirrors and now everyone knows that.
    Banks need to be sliced and diced so speculation does not occur with Clients deposits. And if they do want to speculate then they need to work not on multiles of 20 or 30 but 5 or 10 so that there is no ripple effect as has been seen.
    The primary reason why Myners is wrong is because the Banks will never give they only take and the party (present short term bouce excluded) wont change that style of operation.
    No present government politican has the guts to do what they knowis right simply because the want a cushy consultancy when they are kicked out.
    The taxpayer has been mutilated by Labour and the sooner the go the better.
    Unfortunately they are so in denial they will run it to the end because they have no logic, honesty or know how to do the right thing for the electorate. Their only agenda now is to find new jobs and let the country squirm.
    Brown has been a disasetr compounded by his inability to accept any responsibility for events he was in the prime position to make happen.
    Please don't give Myners teh time of day he has become as big a joke as
    his paymasters.

  • Comment number 47.

    great news! Since banks are all doing so well again, how about they give us back every penny of the bailout billions/trillions then? Now. With interest of course.


    Well then they can't be doing so well after all can they?

  • Comment number 48.

    Dear Mr. Preston,

    I have viewed your story that you have reported about "Profits" at:
    Barclays Bank Plc, London U.K..
    As a Customer of this bank for (36) Months with a $6.5M USD in a
    Mutual fund account.

    Within (36) Months and Four (4) bankers which all of them who have
    solicted to our right steal these funds.
    Barclays Bank Plc, with it so-called high standards seem to have
    Criminals who work as bankers who represent them in business.
    I have proof of these charges that have come upon me doing business
    with Barclays Bank Plc.,London,U.K..
    As of last April , 2009 they have left me homeless with nothing ! !

    VL Jones

  • Comment number 49.

    you say Darling is backing this, because he set up the committee of Boss Pigs , how do you make this assumption ?? Is it not more likely that Darling will be getting rail roaded , much the same way Gordon, and Tony Blair did their fawning over the Boss Pigs taking large donations, and jobs on the board once they retired, to let the Boss Pigs run riot.

    If there is not a riot on the news that the Boss Pigs are planning this , based on the last 6 months, not on the basis of they think the numbers show they are doing well, but on the absolute destruction of wealth of the middle and lower classes they inflicted. Every single person I speak to has either seen their net worth drop by either their savings taking a battering, the pensions taking a battering, their house price taking a battering, their other assets taking a battering, and the Boss Pigs are happy to argue other wise !!!!!!!!

    Whats happened to all the "toxic debts" they have then , have they disappeared

    Tell you what apply the same test to the Banks as they are doing to Tata then

  • Comment number 50.

    39# how to stop inappropriate debt - easy do not borrow what you are unsure about repaying. Just remember the banks cannot force you to borrow. Obviously if only you take that attitude it will not help, what is needed is all of us to be prudent borrowers.

    1# Banks are cartels and monopolies - they can be one or the other not both. Blindingly obviously not a monopoly because there are loads of different banks not one - could be a cartel but OFT have repeated investigated and found that they are not.

    I have said before, and will keep repeating, what is needed is not more regulation but effective regulation. NewLab is ever so keen to pile more and more laws on all sorts of industries but never seems to keen on finding out whether it works or not. What seems to have gone wrong this time is that the regulators either did not spot the level of risk in the banking sector and the over-reliance on the wholesale money markets to keep funding or they did spot it but could do nothing about it. Robert which was it - the cure for the illness depends on identifying the illness correctly.

  • Comment number 51.

    1 + 1 = 2, 2 x 2 = 4, 10 / 2 = 5, 9 - 3 =6.

    i before e except after c, proper nouns need capitals.

    Oh, just because a sky is dark and cloudy and it is raining and there is thunder, it doesn't mean the sky is falling.

    If you bang your big toe on something it is unlikely to mean amputation.

    Finally; if you realise that you have started to store dried food and tins, bottled water and shotgun cartidges in your cellar then telephone your G.P and have a quiet word, there are therapies and little pills that can help.

    p.s Thank Mithras for RBS_TEMP

  • Comment number 52.

    "Lloyds' core tier one capital ratio is a super-strong 14.5%, which should be enough to withstand anything but economic Armageddon."

    "For Barclays - as for a number of global banks in investment banking and wholesale banking - it's difficult to see in its figures that the global economy is in a spot of bother."

    Since we have no picture of by how many billions (I repeat billions), the banks in general are individually under-provided for bad debts, any figures that they produce will be quite meaningless. Armageddon is not something that could happen. Armageddon is something that has already arrived.

  • Comment number 53.

    Well it looks like my suggestion to have a coupla high end show trials for those at the very top of the banking / financial gravy trains, seeing them have all their assets both home and abroad sequestrated by the government. Not only would the latter enjoy an electoral bounce, but just think of the millions rolling into # 11. Now that would be justice served for all those who have lost their investments / jobs & futures stolen!

  • Comment number 54.

    Poweromics = People use position and power for their own personal gain, based on poor moral values, self interest and greed.

    ... Who pays the price ... honest, hard-working people. Who does not (and even make profit from it) ... those in positions of power ... until hard-working people take responsibility and realise the internet has afforded them far more power than they have ever had before.

    The internet will change everything, including 'power', 'politics', and 'economics'.

    Does Politics = Poweromics at the moment?

  • Comment number 55.

    "Lloyds' core tier one capital ratio is a super-strong 14.5%, which should be enough to withstand anything but economic Armageddon."

    Are you really serious?

    Robert I thought you were a journalist. It is clear that this ratio is the result of a massive con through the APS scheme, why don't you investigate this and inform people about it?

    Either you don't care and it raises questions about some hidden agenda you might have or you simply do not understand and this is very worrying.

    In both cases I wonder what is your contribution beyond grabing cheap headlines...

  • Comment number 56.

    Lets not hold grudges here. The recent profits and rises are good news which should be appreciated as any improvement in the economy is going to help a lot of people currently suffering financial hardship of one kind or another.

    What is clear from most of these comments is we do not want the unregulated corporate greed culture to continue.

    This is going to be an ongoing struggle to change and everyone now roused needs to keep the political pressure up as the daily revelations prove there is a powerful self interest instinct at work.

  • Comment number 57.

    Gordon can not control his party as they are all serving them selves like banks do, they are gambling houses run by loan sharks no matter what you call them that is all it is playing with numbers all done on computer there is no credit crunch there never was its about the powerful taking from those who are not what they fear is being poor and also you have to get the country ready for war look at history people were not so far seeing in the pasted and believed in King and country and all that clap trap and went to war for an ideology now people are saying hang on where's the money and why am I working to support what I do not believe in like a war and why are some people being called terrorists when we are bombing there country and others we are not allowed to ask questions about but they are doing terrorist acts see what I mean? And if we have no jobs why are we recruiting in the poor eras of Britian and selling the army as a holiday camp and still the banks are not putting out and houses are fulling fulling and people are being made homeless and Gordon waffles away about helping people do this or that and nothing really. And he blame the USA for the problems here as if we are all daft see Robert I am sure you a nice man but the banking situation does not sit right but the push to war does its been done be for the banks never loose like a casino the house always wins.

    They are recruiting them up to 55 now Robert.

  • Comment number 58.

    The last two lines in Robert Pestons article (in 2 years... banks very profitable) I find quite worrying - reading this in context with the thinking in the government and other players. It seems that Britain doesn't learn the lessons: There is no sustainable change to regulate the banks, regulate and restrict risky banking products. The approach on cracking down on tax heavens, especially the UK immanent ones like Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man is (if any?) softer than clotted cream. Just pouring some more money into the system and continue the dodgy path. This is the surrender to a banana republic run by bankers, and just after a crisis caused by the incapability of banks it is an extremely sad thing to say. Obviously the government (and the rest of this country?) seems to have no other perspective: tragic!!!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    Robert Peston says we will get a new kind of Capitalism. Actually we won't because as soon as the Ferrari boys are back in their comfort zone the same excesses and greed will re-emerge. No Government will stop them because frankly they will be too concerned with winning elections and telling people how "very clear" they have made everything. What we actually need is a new kind of democracy. One that does involve us and lets us have our say. one that really includes us in National decision making.

  • Comment number 60.

    Has the city really paid its way. Sorry its about simple arithmetic.

    The guardian stated that when the banks and city generally were able to profit without encumberence they collectively made a profit of some £40B 2004. (see BBC news for details)

    The financial sector seems to be in hock to the tune of some £800B.

    If the city vas ever able to (or permitted) to make the same historic profits it would take some 20 years to rebuild the city balance sheet. Where does the 2-4 years recapitalisation programme come from?

    This is tax payers money of £800B paid for past deficiencies.

    If the average city worker was paid some £40k for say the past 10 Years it seems to say we have been funding 2,000,000 unemployed.

    Play with the numbers if you want.

    Sorus and Rogers talk about £1.2 - £1.6Trillion uk financial sector debt.

    Some details statistics from an authorative person would be appreciated. Step up to the mark please Mr Peston.



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