Clear answers to straightforward financial questions?
All I can say is "Thank God It's Friday".
We're coming to the end of a full week of reporting UK bank results which started with Barclays and HSBC, moved onto Northern Rock, then Lloyds-HBOS and today finished with RBS. We even had a surprise £50bn of quantitative easing thrown into the mix for good measure.
We've reported all this in a great deal of detail on radio and TV and online and they have all painted a mixed picture. It's clear that a lot of our audience members want some clear answers to some straightforward questions.
• Are the banks doing enough to support the economy?
• Are the worst of bank losses behind us?
• Is quantitative easing working?
• Where has all the money the taxpayer has put in actually gone?
• And when will we get it back?
Well, it's pretty tough to give definitive answers to those. If there's one thing confirmed by reporting this weeks results, it's that interpreting them is as much art as science.
For confirmation of that, you need only look at our reporting of today's RBS results, where we are reporting a broadly break-even £15m profit while others, including the FT, are reporting a £1bn loss (it depends whether you include the pre-tax post-exceptionals, and we had a lively debate about that ourselves).
Or you could look at how banks have chosen to report their business lending. RBS tell us that they have approved 85% of new loan requests (down from 86%). Barclays claim a figure of 90% approval for loan applications from credit-worthy businesses - spot the difference?
What we have tried to do this week is to extract the meaning and find the story in each of this week's results, and I'd urge you to take a look at Robert Peston's blog posts throughout this week to get the best picture we can provide.
One thing that would have helped this week is if the chief wxecutives of Northern Rock and Lloyds-HBOS - banks in which we as taxpayers have a huge interest - had been willing to speak to us. They could help with the answers to the many of the questions you are rightly asking.
Jeremy Hillman is editor of the business and economics unit.