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We own Royal Bank

Robert Peston | 09:00 UK time, Friday, 28 November 2008

It's official. We the taxpayer own one of the world's biggest banks, Royal Bank of Scotland, or 58% of it.

Royal Bank of Scotland signOnly a tiny number of RBS's shareholders chose to buy any of the new shares in Royal Bank that were being sold in order to strengthen its balance sheet - which was inevitable, since the new shares were more expensive than the price of the existing shares on the stock market.

So the Treasury, on behalf of taxpayers, bought up the remaining 23bn shares at 65.5p each.

And, with last night's market price at 55p, we as taxpayers are already sitting on a loss of £2.4bn on this stake.

But the share price may rise.

What's more important is that this huge bank - which has just under £2,000bn of assets - is now majority controlled by the state.

Its shares will be in the hands of a special new company, UK Financial Investments Limited, owned by the Treasury, but described as being at arms length from it (see my earlier note, "a new taxpayer-owned mega-bank").

This is intended to demonstrate that ministers will not meddle in Royal Bank's day to day operations.

That said, it is utterly implausible that ministers and officials will be able to stand by idly as and when Royal Bank takes actions that affect millions of voters.

The commercial judgements of Royal Bank's management will inevitably be conditioned by the inescapable fact that we the taxpayers now own the bank.

That's about a great deal more than whether it pays bonuses to senior executives or how much it lends to small business and homeowners (which is where the government has already exerted explicit pressure).

It's about fundamental questions of culture and about how much risk the bank is prepared to take or is allowed to take by the new proprietor.

Those who run banks such as Royal Bank have for years seen themselves as creators and manufacturers of financial products, companies that can generate incremental wealth and can grow faster than the underlying rate of the economy.

They didn't want to see themselves as the infrastructure of the economy, that couldn't and shouldn't attempt to push up their profits at an accelerating rate. Somehow it was a bit too humiliating to be no more than the pipework for the real generators of wealth, companies with genuinely new services, real products and real technology.

So bankers created and exploited new "financial technology" that enriched themselves (for a while, at least) and was supposedly benefiting all of us by providing unlimited quantities of credit at astonishingly cheap rates.

Much of that technology - the collateralised debt obligations, the collateralised loan obligations, the credit default swaps, the structured investment vehicles - generated colossal losses, hobbled the global banking system, and is part of the reason why taxpayers all over the world are now propping up wounded banks on a mindboggling scale.

So whether they like it or not, most banks and bankers are destined to lead a quieter, duller life for many years.

Which, many taxpayers would say, isn't such a terrible thing.

If our banks simply concentrated on the very basics - taking deposits, providing simple loans to customers they actually know, moving our money to where we want it to go - would that be so disastrous?

Throughout the entire history of banking there's always been a tension between their core function as public-service utilities and the desire of the bankers themselves to earn super-normal returns by speculating with their depositors' cash.

Whether they like it or not, all our banks will for the next few years look a lot more like building societies and a lot less like Goldman Sachs.

UPDATE, 09:45AM: Sorry. I forgot the elephant in the room, Royal Bank of Scotland's £1900bn of borrowings, deposits and other liabilities.

I'm sure these will be kept off the formal public sector balance sheet. The public finances really wouldn't look pretty if another 140% of GDP was added to the national debt.

But now that taxpayers own 58% of Royal Bank, we are explicitly and formally standing behind its entire, gargantuan balance sheet, its assets and its liabilities.

That was always true in an implicit sense, because Royal Bank was too big to be allowed by the government to fail.

But we shouldn't pretend that the liability isn't real. The assessment of Royal Bank's credit-worthiness is now closely linked to an assessment of the credit-worthiness of the UK state.

That cuts both ways. Royal Bank is benefitting from having the financial support of the state (which is why it really does have to behave itself).

But the fact that Royal Bank has this conspicuous support also shines quite a bright light on the huge and growing liabilities of the state, which will have an impact on the perceived credit-worthiness of Britain - and not in a nice way.


Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Should I move my current account out of Nat West?

  • Comment number 2.


    Good points well made. Now, if the FSA could either be scrapped or made to work, then we might be getting somewhere. The "light touch" regulation (ie virtually non existant) has been a contributory factor to the current mess, both here and in the US.

    One thing we're not clear on though.. although the institution will be run by yet another quango at arms length - shouldnt F.I.L actually be an active board member rather than just the majority shareholder? Or is the Treasury not bothered about how the bank conducts itself providing it gets its money back (as can be seen from the current behavioural patterns of N.R???

    I'd be interested to hear what you and everyone thinks.

  • Comment number 3.

    So the Treasury, on behalf of taxpayers, bought up the remaining 23bn shares at 65.5p each.

    And, with last night's market price at 55p, we as taxpayers are already sitting on a loss of £2.4bn on this stake.

    Caveat: Share prices may go down as well as up.

    As 'the buyer of last resort' is there not some mechanism where the treasury could have gone to market and bought at market rates?
    or renegotiated?

  • Comment number 4.

    And looking at the technicals for RBS it would seem that more mark to market losses are coming. The stock is putting in a huge bear flag and momentum is topping out. When the next wave of selling hits and momentum turns back down with trend it could be very nasty.

    Why oh why has the government decided to play trader with the public finances? With credit card defaults the next bubble to pop there are huge losses to come still.

  • Comment number 5.

    UK Financial Investments Limited also "owns" Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley, so together they truly are a formidable bank!

    What "pressure" has government exerted over executives bonuses, exactly? It was my understanding that Northern Rock managers and upwards had granted themselves 30% bonuses this year, agreed by the Treasury?

    I'm sorry, did I say "agreed" - I just meant "greed"!

  • Comment number 6.

    It will be interesting if it becomes easier or cheaper to borrow from RBS (unlike NR).

    If it does, the state will most likely be taking on more bad debt. If it doesn't then how will this sit against the government telling banks they must lend...

  • Comment number 7.

    "Somehow it was a bit too humiliating to be no more than the pipework for the real generators of wealth, companies with genuinely new services, real products and real technology. "

    Take heed all you bankers out there who haven't yet seen the change in your perceived role.

    You're probably still thinking of a return to the good ole days of being the top of the pile, lording it over and holding to ransom the real wealth creators.

    In reality you are a cog, albeit a large and integral one, but still a cog.

    Please take your responsibilities seriously from now on.

  • Comment number 8.

    Right, now we own the bank, time for it to pop along to the High Court in London to withdraw the case against people who have asked for all those illegal bank charges back.

    If we own the bank, why would want the bank to behave illegally?

  • Comment number 9.

    We can weep over bankers but retail accounts for just as much GDP as banking, ie 9%. But it employs 300% more staff.

    The government should make some attempt to rescue Woolworths (WLW). If they do not, there are 30,000 people unemployed and add on ancilliary staff, suppliers and distribitors etc, it comes to 120,000. Employees made redundant by WLW can claim from the National Insurance Fund back pay for up to eight weeks, capped at £310 a week and holiday pay of up to six weeks with the same limit. They can also claim for failure to receive statutory minimum notice up to £310 per week. Where relevant, staff can claim unfair dismissal, statutory sick pay and maternity pay.


  • Comment number 10.

    The question now surely is when will the taxpayer see something in return for all these billions spent bailing out the banks?

    Personally, I do not think we ever will. If the banks stop lending then we get no benefit. However, if they lend recklessly as the government wants, then it will create more bad debt that the taxpayer will also have to foot the cost for.

    Surely it would have been better to just put the money into tax cuts rather than spend it bailing out yet another bank!?

  • Comment number 11.

    Slightly off topic, I’m afraid, but relevant to your blogs in general.

    Northern Rock, Bradford & Bingley nationalisation Lloyds takeover of HBOS, the Government’s announcement of the intention to recapitalise the banks, followed by Friday’s accurate account of what the Chancellor was going to say on Monday in the PBS all predicting Government statements with an accuracy which cannot be explained by clairvoyance. Clearly someone is leaking information to you ahead of government statements and you are putting it in the public domain in advance of those statements.

    So, unless you have been granted some form of immunity, the evidence against you is clear.

    Are you expecting a home visit from the counter terrorism branch?

  • Comment number 12.

    Oh dear, we all now, each and every one of us, owns by proxy, a part of a bank, an organisation which many if not most ordinary people hold in contempt.

    It seems ludicrous that we are bailing these creators of misery, they have made billions from the tears and pain of people who have literally had to sell their souls to them in order to have a roof over their heads. Im not talking about the ones who take out loans for huge tv's or the second car, but people who took out a mortgage to put a roof over their heads, not to make a profit, or who found themselves a little short at the end of the month and got hit with a huge penalty fee.

    Personally, I think all the banks should have been allowed to go to the wall, and then the Govt. could have bought up the assets for cheap, and re-opened them as fully nationalised companies, there to be a part of the national infrastructure, not as a profit making concern. If Europe didn't like it, well, tough on Europe, let them go examine some bananas for the correct curvature.

  • Comment number 13.

    the £2,000 billion valuation of assets is based on what price ?

  • Comment number 14.

    THE single MOST important thing is that government do whatever they possibly can to allow as little bank capital as possible to leave in the form of bonuses this bonus round.

    Not just at RBS but all banks.

    I know a lot of city people, and there is an implicit understanding that austere times are ahead and that they should extract whatever last loot they can from the sinking ships this year.

    They are relying on the sloth of government and, in Vince Cables words, "making monkeys" of the taxpayer.

  • Comment number 15.

    Well, why doesn't he ruddy well finish the job and allow Corporate Treasurers alarmed at the Woolies precedent time to find a port to ride out the storm? Otherwise we'll face a lot more shipwrecks.
    He can always undo it later.

  • Comment number 16.

    Robert - what do you mean 'public service utilities' - this was a commercial international bank operating in a very competitive environment. It should not be pressured by Brown/Darling to make unprofitable loans to business/ homeowners who can't repay them. It had/ should have no duty of public service. We should allow competitive forces to decide how much risk a bank should take (and at what price) but have tighter regulations to ensure the overall appetite for risk is not excessive with the consequences we are now seeing. The government has no place interfering. The banks have paid wit their lives for the mistakes they made. What punishments should we expect for the Government appointed regulators who allowed those mistakes. Ultimately the regulators and this government have to carry the can too. The buck stops with Gordon Brown.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    Cup definitely more than half full!

    There is an opportunity here for the government to showcase how a responsible bank should conduct itself. That will not happen if Darling carries on mumbling about the need for commercial management of the state owned banks.

    'Commercial management' is why we got into this position in the first place.

    While the day to day management of the bank should be left to the experts (who hopefully will now emerge) there is at policy and public affairs level the need for a supervisory board for corporate and social responsibility.

    Radical is appointing government, Trade Union and small shareholder board members to broaden the interests in decision making and thereby construct a model for social enterprise.

  • Comment number 19.

    if the Government wants to interfere then it already has the means to do so in the banks it already owns; Northern Wreck and Bungle & Bingo. lThis may even be the right thing to do.

    The huge risk Robert does not mention here is that there are further huge losses on RBS' two thousand billion balance sheet.

    This would bankrupt the bank at the very least and cause a taxpayer loss of tens of billions. Instead we would no doubt end up with full nationalisation.

    That very much will be the story of next year. The new CEO will hopefully clear out all the bad news by the time of his first set of results

  • Comment number 20.

    Wow what a bargain!
    Spend 15bn and we get 58% of a company with 2000bn of assets we can presumably get UKFIL to flog off. So we can get back what around 1200bn for an outlay of only 15bn.

    Brilliant, we can now pay off the national debt and fill the holes in public spending, buy all the PFI deals off and what have a few quid spare for a new aircraft carrier or two?
    Might we also get lower taxes from teh interest on the balance remaining in perpetuity also, is there is enough left?

    Surely a master stroke by Alistair Darling to have engineered this financial miracle.

    Or have I missed something?

  • Comment number 21.


    'We the taxpayer own one of the world's biggest banks, Royal Bank of Scotland, or 58% of it.'

    In (economic) principle, it may be right to say so.

    Politically speaking, it is rather misleading.

  • Comment number 22.

    So the Government appears to promise not to 'interfere' in day-on-day management of RBS tlc.

    Just like they don't micro-manage rail....

    Don't forget AD is well practised in making sure that once its in his grip, he does not let go (Railtrack rip).

  • Comment number 23.

    Over recent months many contributors mentioned the BOE failure to recognise the property price boom as inflationary. Are the same authorities now failing to see that with house price collapse and share price collapse we have already had a year of massive DEFLATION. Perhaps the Government does have an opportunity to print a rapid cash injection without risk of inflation. This would help weak commercial cash flow that is a current widespread problem threatenig failure of healthy business.

    And to all those worrying about government intervention and spreading socialism perhaps a history lesson is valid. The only major economy to grow throughout the thirties depression was soviet Russia.

    Who is for a spell of command economy and the smack of strong government with Uncle Gordon in place of Uncle Joe.

  • Comment number 24.

    Come on, Mathewson and Burt.
    Act now to prevent RBS from being taken over by the UKFI ltd. or have you guys lost all credibility in London?

  • Comment number 25.

    I've been reading this blog for some time now and i've finally decided to pitch in - thankyou sashaclarkson

    what i want to say is, there are an awful lot of good, intelligent folk reading and commenting here, i'm sure concerned for the well being of themselves, their families, their country and their common man.

    Perhaps we all have good cause to be concerned. It certainly looks, sounds and feels that way.

    Sashaclarkson is right i feel, a rebuild britain party is what we need, so we can have government of the people, by the people - a proper democracy, i think some would call it

    That way, whatever transpires, it can be dealt with equitably and compassionately. Rebuild a better britain for everyone

    I would certainly like to be involved, so my first step is pitching up here, making contact. From what i've read there are enough well informed, intelligent people here to make a difference - so lets start doing it, organising, spreading the word - we can use the lessons of obama's campaign (i dont think we know for sure what he's actually going to be like in power)

    Change. For the better. A better Britain

    Rebuild Britain 2010

  • Comment number 26.

    Capitalism and democracy are two separate things - I would add that Capitalism is anti-democratic by nature. So having the biggest banks under the control of the State may end in tears.

  • Comment number 27.

    UK Financial Investments Ltd...maybe should be called "British Leyland Finance Corporation". Can anyone really believe it will be "independent" of government? Will it be able to make job losses if necessary? Will it only lend to businesses and individuals that are credit-worthy? Or wil it be used as a tool of government policy, as BLMC was?

  • Comment number 28.

    If one imagines an olympic swimming pool being filled with pound notes representing the amount of debt and interest owed in the UK and then imagine a 'small spa' sized pool filled with notes actually representing the amount of money in circulation one can visualise the problem.

    By owning RBS at least a gov agency can inflate the economy by the back door - or am I being too cynical?

  • Comment number 29.

    I predict the UK will be going to the IMF cap in hand again within 24 months and Labour will be consigned to the opposition for 12 years minimum.
    Well done Brown, I hope you are proud.

  • Comment number 30.

    Its mismanagement caused its downfall but heaven help us now if the new "Owners" manage the business like they have managed the Country.
    However, after yesterdays disgraceful episode with an Opposition Cabinet Member will this blog and others be finished because contributors dont wish to have their collars felt by the A T Squad !

    A sad time for democracy, what was left of it anyway in this Country.

    Seriously worried

  • Comment number 31.

    As I was walking past 2 very large RBS buildings at about 10 last night, I was struck as to how brightly lit they were.

    Obviously our hard pressed bankers were still hard at work on our behalf.

    If not, perhaps I should have demanded that they switch off some of the lights.

  • Comment number 32.

    Isn't it instructive that the only banks that appear to be in a healthy state are the ones that have eschewed the high-risk gambling approach and concentrated on the nuts and bolts activity of banking, obeying the age-old customs and practices developed over centuries. I personally feel much more confident now that banks like Santander are in charge of more of the UK's banking capacity. Coming from a family of merchant bankers I have less than zero sympathy for the feckless financial spivs who by their reckless behaviour have driven the world in to a global recession. The senior executives and directors of these institutions that have now required vast sums of public money to prevent their collapse should have their personal assets, buolt up on the back of their awful behaviour, taken in to public ownership as well.

  • Comment number 33.


    !Breaking News!

    Government to own majority of RBS

    Other Top News stories:
    Sheffield mum has triplets
    Cricketers still going to make plenty of money despite Indian Terror attack
    Waitrose sales down 4%
    Police Chief vacates office
    We can still afford the Olympic village

    Repossessions up 12%


  • Comment number 34.

    Terrible times, truely terrible times!

    Firstly I'm not a Brown/Darling fan. Brown got us in this mess - Sorry but I don't subscribe to him not knowing the trouble the banks had got themselves into - if he didn't then it's incompitance

    Also I don't agree with the 2.5% VAT reduction (2.1%, our money could have been better spent. However

    I am however (with a touch of schedenfreud) looking forward to the next election.

    Watch as we get closer and closer for ever more desperate vote winning tricks

  • Comment number 35.


    Are you out there, no sign of you this morning, and I am worried you have been arrested!!!

    Block caps is the new crime apparently.

  • Comment number 36.

    Why would I, a taxpayer, buy shares at above the market price? I've been had.

    Who gave me this investment advice?

    Can I report GB and AD to the FSA for poor investment advice?

    The argument that it might still go up doesn't wash; if I had bought it at the prevailing market rate it would have been even cheaper and I would have the potential to make even more profit.

    Can we all get a new set of financial advisers please?

  • Comment number 37.

    Perhaps we now should look at Bosses of the banks/Hedge funds etc who have made extraordinary large amounts of money, assess whether they have acted irresponsibily and if they have, do a "Drugs Lord" style asset seizure to help pay for this mess.

    For those of you that think this wont happen, it is already being looked at in the US where as we all know, they will demand their revenge.

  • Comment number 38.


    Your best post in a while. Thank you for calling things as you see them.


    I got my wish for a state-owned bank!

  • Comment number 39.

    # 2

    If "light touch" regulation hasn't worked, why do you think no regualtion would be better? That's the implication of your suggestion of scrapping FSA.

    Incidentally, the FSA rule book runs to about 8,000 pages, and they've introduced about 4,000 pages of new/revised regulation this year alone, just to put "light touch" into some kind of perspective.

    The problem with financial services regulation is simply that the wrong things are regulated and punished. We actually need less regulation, but with a much clearer focus on areas of real systemic risk to the financial system.

  • Comment number 40.

    Rebuild Britain 2010

    A place at the table for Mr Damian Green and Mr Vincent Cable perhaps?

    I don't think we should exclude responsible politicians - it would do no harm to have good, knowledgeable people with transparent, honourable intentions working in tandem with the intelligent, hard working, normal folk of the UK for the good of everyone.



    Excuse me if that all sounds a little utopian, i've got a phrase ringing in my ears but I can't for the life of me remember who said it:

    Yes we can!

    I wonder if that slogan would ever resonate with people in a political campaign?

    Rebuild Britain 2010

  • Comment number 41.

    1. Stop all Sunday Trading.

    2. Stop Supermarkets selling anything other than groceries.

    3. Stop car manufacturers making cars, which do less than and avg of 25mpg.

    4. Build Modern Nuclear power plants.

    5. Introduce Educational systems linked to benefits for the long-term unemployed.

    6. Stop Banks and lenders lending to those who can’t show how they will pay back the debt.

    7. Cut down on the size of local government. –50%. At least.

    8. Force massive improvements on insulation for every property in the country.

    9. Boot out anyone who does not believe in democracy and who does not respect our country and our society.

    10. At least 2 new national holidays.

    My plan for 2009 and a way out of the mess we are in.

    Not Rocket Science.

    Rather easier than pumping billions into the system.

  • Comment number 42.

    It's always astonished me that despite having in RBS one of the most profitable - in the good old days at least - banks on the planet based in its capital Scotland has lower growth than the rest of the UK and an appallingly low new company birth rate.

    RBS also played it's role in the sell off of numerous Scottish companies to foreign entities including I believe Scottish Power. It also lent heavily to private equity companies which as we all know don't actually create anything new either.

    It begs the question doesn't it as to what the point of RBS actually is? However, if it continues with its previous strategy then there is no doubt the Govt will find it a useful tool in its ongoing efforts to deindustrialise the entire UK and to make Scotland an economic desert always in need of big brother Union to keep it going!

  • Comment number 43.

    I do not understand the "political correctness" about "arms lenght" or "no meddling in the management of the banks we own". If as private investor I had the luxory of owing 58% of RBS I would jolly well be looking to meddle in their management, I would appoint my nominated directors, I would ensure that I get a good vote on the remuneration committee, I would network for the bank and build its business, I would organise merger and acquisitions to improve efficiency and I would ensure that incompetent and irresponsible managers are fired and cost shed. After all, I would want the best return for my money invested.

    So why not when I own the same bank via my tax money.

    Let us not forget the RBS is where it today due to the improper and irresponsible actions of its management. So why give them a further vote of confidence by promising not to meddle in their affairs.

    I agree running of banks should be away from day to day and politically motivated meddling in running a bank but I think Govt should not just become a passive shareholder.

    Govt should appoint someone "independent" with knowledge and experience of turning around industries as in charge of UK financial investment ltd and
    UK Financial Investments Limited should operate like an activist hedge fund, looking after best returns on the investment made on behalf of UK tax payers.

  • Comment number 44.

    Again, from the BBC website

    'Iceland's government seized control.. 3 of the nation's major banks in a bid to keep the country's financial system afloat.'

    'annual rate of inflation in Iceland has escalated to a record high of 17.1%'

    'Food prices increased fastest, up 30.6% over the year, as the country's currency plummeted'

    The pound is overvalued with respect to the debt burden held here.

  • Comment number 45.

    But what does this mean for PFI and the government's balance sheet?

    I thought RBS (along with HBOS) was one of the biggest backers of PFI projects, so now the government is paying above the odds in PFI payments to PCI partners backed by a bank that it owns.

    Makes you think that the government might as well have paid for those projects directly!

  • Comment number 46.

    your wrote"
    Right, now we own the bank, time for it to pop along to the High Court in London to withdraw the case against people who have asked for all those illegal bank charges back."

    Or alternatively time to claim a crown immunity and make the incompetents (not those who suffered charges due to a bank error only) who incurred charges through their own financial mismanagement and are just seeking to avoid their obligations on a legal technicality.

    Part of the mess as a whole in the UK is the trend we have in this country to seeking clever legalistic loopholes to avoid obligations or the consequences of our own actions (in all walks of life). (It doesn't excuse incompetent drafting in the first place but two wrongs do not make a right (in both common and legal senses).
    I applauded the judge who, whilst forced to legally wipe the debt of the couple seeking to avoid paying it, pointedly didn't award costs thus leaving them with a new unavoidable bill of roughly the same amount. Well done that judge.

    As ever more 'clever' ways were sought to avoid responsibility the greater common sense and 'moral' position which existed where everyone understood their obligations has been undermined. When the NR fiasco first came to light I remember the vox pop reports where some of the borrowers were under the impression it was good since if it failed they wouldn't have to pay the money back. Whilst they are to be pitied - stupidity should never be rewarded. We should not applaud those who have or seek to use loopholes to avoid consequences of their actions - ok rule of law says they win - but they are not heroes or good people.
    Many are just clever greedy ones and they are to be despised for contributing to the decline of this country.

  • Comment number 47.

    The Treasury has not acted in the best interests of the taxpayer.

    Buying the remaining 23 billion shares at 65.5p each is madness.

    The current share price is 53.80.

    The Treasury holds all the cards in this negotiation.

    Surely, the Treasury should have renegotiated the terms of this "investment".

    Should the bank change its name - removing "Scotland" and substituting "Britain"?

  • Comment number 48.

    No. 20, whistling-neil.

    Excellent comment, I laughed my socks off.

  • Comment number 49.

    Does no one get it? Now Flash Gordon (saviour of the universe) has control of a big bank he can get the debt building again, you watch RBS will be pumping out mortgages like they are going out of fashion along with credit cards given away with petrol.

    We will all feel rich again, vote Flash Gordon back in, so he will not go down in history as a prime minister who never won an election, just one who distroyed the UK.

    If only Woolies could have hung on a few more days Direct Line (or one of many other insurance companies RBS owns) would have insured their suppliers.

  • Comment number 50.

    So, as I have my mortgage with RBS, will my tax share net me some form of discount?


    Didn't think so.

    Shoring it up from both ends then!! Giving to them with one hand and giving to them with the other. At least it's a balanced relationship.

  • Comment number 51.

    Will this new ownership now mean that cheques will clear in less than 5 days?

    Ownership is one thing but if the same management and culture is unchanged then there is no hope.

  • Comment number 52.

    "Somehow it was a bit too humiliating to be no more than the pipework for the real generators of wealth, companies with genuinely new services, real products and real technology."

    Sums it up in a nutshell - banks should NEVER be more than enablers of the real economy.

    So far as the real economy and real technology is concerned, I would ask bloggers to spare a moment to look at my comment #330 on the previous (Woolies) thread and consider signing the no 10 e petition on science education. This is vital for our future generations.

  • Comment number 53.

    Terrible times, truly terrible times!

    Firstly I'm not a Brown/Darling fan. Brown got us in this mess - Sorry but I don't subscribe to him not knowing the trouble the banks had got themselves into - if he didn't then its incompetence. A couple of hundred million lost I can forgive, but the whole banking system collapsing, come on Gordon, just what were you doing for 10 years?

    Also I don't agree with the 2.5% VAT reduction (2.1% net effect), our money could have been better spent. However this isn't about one off purchases, it's about the cumulative effect over a month or year. As 2.5% comes off all VAT purchases there is more money in our pockets - yes not enough to save, but that's the point. If 30 million of us are 1 pound a week better off, it's the sort of money that gets frittered... but that's a 30 million a week frittered a month.
    I can see the logic, just don't think it'll work!

    Despite Labour barracking the Tories with cries of Do Nothing, I'm beginning to subscribe to the idea that maybe just battening down the hatches and doing nothing is not such a bad idea.

    Yes there will be unemployment, house repositions and hardship. But the start of that is already with us and who's to say the Gov actions are helping (I know we will be hearing a lot of - Think how bad it would have been if not for our action - from the politicians over the next year)

    In addition to this, is now seems that the Gov knows we have reached the bottom, surprising since they seem to have been oblivious on a month by month basis up to now. But there is nothing in the budget that seems to suggest anymore black holes appearing - don't forget up until only a couple of months ago no one would have guesses the scale of the Bank bailout.

    Taking all this into account, I say save our money (loss of tax rev and benefits will run up enough of a debt) and wait for the first sign of Spring and then SPEND!

    At the moment the plan seems to be, wait for the first signs of Spring then TAX!

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm not a financial expert, just a "hard working, hard pressed family man", careful where my money goes, so may have misunderstood the situation, and if so I apologise to those more knowledgeable.

    As I see it, I am now an (unwilling) shareholder in a Bank.
    Can I at a time of my choosing withdraw the "prudent investment" which has been made on my behalf?
    Alternatively, as G. Brown & Co. are acting as de facto trustees, can I sack the whole lot of them when they fail to come up to the mark?

    The answer to both questions will almost certainly be "NO". Something tells me I've been "conned", with no redress available.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think you miss a major point. Bankers "behaving" themselves means a reduction in tax revenues of about £40bn a year which creates a huge structural deficit for the UK. Gordon Brown has (almost) been able to afford the ridiculous increases in Govt expenditure over the last few years because of his very substantial cut of these "exhorbitant" bonuses and profits. The restraint imposed on the City will mean cuts in Govt expenditure on a massive scale. The PBR had hidden cuts in the reduction of future growth of expenditure to 1.1%. That is as credible as the rest of the projections. Just look at the tax paid by RBS over the last few years.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think the concept of banks having a "core function as public-service utilities" is a good one. Indeed some of the really core functions, such as providing current accounts, cash machines, cheque clearing, direct debits etc are indeed just the plumbing of the system. In a highly computerised world, these aspects presumably cost very little to run - it's not all that different from what internet service providers do, often for free.

    Perhaps we should look at forcibly moving these aspects out of the banks and into a separate non-profit making entity (a sort of Railtrack of the financial world), leaving the banks to just do savings and loans? This "public service" would not be allowed to take part in risky investing and so would be required to keep its funds in Government bonds etc, but given low runnning costs that would probably still provide a better rate of interest on current accounts than the banks currently provide.

    The current system is broken. We need to seriously think about radical ways of reforming it.

  • Comment number 57.

    A capitalist society thrives on risk. An excessively conservative lending stance would be in no one's interest.

    I am not talking about financial induced risk, I am talking about risk in the real economy since innovation and product development are inherently risky ventures. Eight out of 10 new products fail. Society benefits more from the two products that succeed then they lose from the 8 products that fail.

    It would be disastrous if necessary attempts to constrain the worst impulses of the financial engineers were to also constrain the innovation needed to further the interests of society.

  • Comment number 58.

    The FUNDAMENTAL problem with the UK NOW is the mis-allocation of resources - intellectual, financial and industrial - to entire sectors like banking, retail, housing (and all associated construction for e.g.) where there never was any fundamental growth, just trading of asset price appreciation between bankers / agents / advisors who then supported a false retail sector with phantom purchasing power spent on imported goods.

    Banking is and should remain a simple utility-like function. Turning metal into cars adds value, and money should REFLECT that value. Bankers should not try to CREATE value by financial re-engineering, because no such value exists. This is why every decade taxpayers have to bal them out.

    We need our smart people going more into skilled sectors, whether manufacruting / services which add real value and create exports that re-balance our nonsensical trade deficit...and less into banking / estate agency / retail / government and any other bubble that this insane level of borrowing creates or perpetuates.

    This mis-allocation is very harmful. We have lost our technical base, and instead focussed our energies on housing /retail led 'regeneration' of entire areas (including the Olympics) which are fundamentall unviable.

    The high street HAS to change dramatically, with less estate agents / bank branches and less shops pushing chinese goods which we cannot really afford any more. The million+ dwelings for sale make a mockery of the wise experts who insist on the presence of a housing 'shortage'. The banking sector has to shrink dramatically. The government owned RBS could lead the way by slashing its headcount, raising rates for savers, measured lending at a cost that reflects risk and NO MORE Investment Banking.

    This is just the beginning, and RBS will have at least 2 more bailouts. HBOS is under water several times over. The world's bond marketsw will decide if the UK is like Iceland or not, whatever GB and AD may like to believe.

  • Comment number 59.

    Does this mean I can just make my mortgage payments, credit cards to myself and cancel my overdraft?

  • Comment number 60.

    Well, after the way the markets shortsold RBS , Bradford and Bingley and Northern Rock, of course no ordinary Investors would buy.

    But the Gov't knew this and I'm inclined to think, planned it this way.

    If the Bank of England had properly supported the Banks, with penalty rate loans, they and thousands of jobs would still exist in the private sector.

    Now the City is scarred by its own folly and also by the machinations of Gov't.

    Why would any investor buy into this snakepit of a Stockexchange in any way now?

    By the way its Pension Funds who have lost out in this massive Share swindle.

    So when your Pension matures, you may find you have far less to live on than you thought.

    Its worth checking now, in case there is anything you can do to protect your future.

    Sadly for those Pensioners with only a few years left to go before retirement it may be too late.

  • Comment number 61.

    I suspect that this will, in time, be a very profitable investment by govt - the only issue is how long will it take to be profitable 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?

    As for not meddling I understand from friends in the RBS group that the bank has already withdrawn from lending on "politically sensitive" matters even where the lending has historically been very profitable. Whether that is self-censorship or responding to strong hints from govt I do not know - however, it is a sign of things to come at RBS.

  • Comment number 62.

    I've just purchased the domain names

    And hereby donate them to the movement

    We must have some decent web designers out there - or someone must at least know one - any takers?

    Sorry if i'm getting too involved people - quiet happy to subordinate if we've got some good organisers already going on this movement, but if not I would like to put myself forward as initial organiser for northants - quite happy to step aside and just assist if someone else would prefer the role

    Who's up for it? - nominate yourself for your



    alex curzon?

    Everyone's needed, this should be the broadest of broad churches

    Come on people, yes we can!!

    Rebuild Britain 2010

  • Comment number 63.

    #51 - cheques will always take longer to clear ...

    Why not use the Faster Payments service which RBS has been the main player in from the start

    The culture of the new Peoples Bank of RBS has been to improve the technology ... take a look at the "private" banks (Barclays etc.) and the cautious banks like Lloyds and compare the speed of processing payments!

  • Comment number 64.

    Of course the huge lump of Inflation to come will make the Gov't Shares worth more or less depending on how you look at it.

  • Comment number 65.

    I put the RBS 'cats arse' logo on their Contract Notes back in the day

  • Comment number 66.

    Is Alexander Curzon really Damien Green? That would explain his absence.

    Mysteriously no news from Nick Robinson re the first steps to a totalitarian state. Perhaps he is waiting to be told what the givernment want him to say.

  • Comment number 67.

    So we've all bought a large SLICE of A VERY


    GORDY/ALLY D,have you any idea how much

    TOXIC lending this lot have on the books?

    I know of one account a mere 900 million

    facility to a bunch of gangsters dressed

    in suits.



  • Comment number 68.

    44: Yes the Pound will collapse and Inflation will inevitably take off.

  • Comment number 69.


    The taxpayer is proping up the banks on a mindboggling scale. I think nobody expected the banks to lend on the 2007 scale. but at this moment they are lending at about 10% of that. not only that i hear some people saying that even there over dafts are now being realed in. so the question surely now was it right to save lame duck banks.
    You also say that the banks will be concentrating on the basics and would it be such a disaster. Well i refur to a previous blog you wrote about a fairer society. To the 2% the megger and supper rich no, and nor will it be for the bottom 5% of society. but for 93% of society it will be a vast change of life style.
    If i may refur to my brother. He as for the last 30 years building is small empire. he lives in a six bedroom house that was worth 380,000 and the money he thought he had made on his previous houses over the years will go if the prices of his home falls by 60%.And he was to lose is job. In other words he as payed a mortgage for the passed 30 years for nothing.
    So whats the chances of losing is job? I would at this moment in time say as long as no other banks hand out the begging bowl its about 50%. yes 50% of people thats 15 million job losses.What i dont understand is why parliment are not planning the future for us all. REMEMBER we are not in recession yet
    and the talk will be soon the mother of all depressions will be upon us. you have only to see whats happening in china and the usa to see what is really going to happen. as where placed the worst then to future looks really bleak.
    But it wouldnt be so bleak if the banks where to start lending at 50% of what the where doing, but i really think they are in no postion to.

  • Comment number 70.

    Yesterday on this blog many people were saying that the Treasury should not bail out Woolworths, as they had a defunct business model and had been babdly mismanaged.

    Doesnt this sound Familiar? The Govt has now created a rod for its own back by saving these institutions, and we will no doubt have calls to save all kinds of Business in the coming months.

    There have always been recessions and many business fail, however this is the first one that has been proceeded by a major catastrophe in a banking sector, that has effectively saved from Bankruptcy by the Govt.

    Surely all this bail out money could have been then used to guarantee depositors savings. We have enough Administrators in this country who could have then taken the job of retrieving what was owed to the banks. The likes of Deloitte and KPMG would have enjoyed taking these jobs on and charging their extortionate fees.

    Banks are integral to our economy, but they wouldnt have all disappeared, and other financial institutions would have taken their place, because there is still a lot of money around, it just isnt held by the Banks.

    Just like Vinyl/tape/CD/MP3 things evolve. If something has faults it is eventually replace by something with less faults. Banking is no Different.

  • Comment number 71.

    Day in day out you blame the banks alone for this mess, but who was it who deregulated the banks and encourage them to trade in these riskier areas? The government.

    Who failed to rein them in when things looked unsustainable for fear of threatening the tax revenue from both the banks and their wealthy employees? The government.

    Who failed to tighten the regulations for fear of damaging the City's competitiveness and driving all this lucrative business abroad? Oh yes, the government.

    It's simplistic to continue blaming the banks when they were doing precisely what the government and the regulatory bodies had encouraged them to do.

    If you are going to be an impartial journalist then blame all three.

  • Comment number 72.

    In the long term owning property will turn out to be the best bet afterall!

    We aren't Japan.

    We do not have a strong manufacturing base to fall back on.

    High Inflation is inevitable, to cover the record debts taken on by this Gov't.

    Deposit accounts are a waste of time.

    If you have debts pay them off, otherwise enjoy your money whilst it is worth something.

  • Comment number 73.

    This could be a great opportunity to clean up the banks once and for all.

    I agree with roberdmarshall. waiting 5 days for a cheque to clear is 5 days of yours and mine interest. In Israel you can pay a check in and access the funds same day, as you can in Sweden where the Govt got heavy with banks and forced them into it.

    Just think what else we could do.

    Set a maximum interest rate that anyone could charge based on a multiple of the bank rate, As this i set once a month by the BOE
    You would do away with loan shark practices ie store cards etc straight away.

    Reasonable charges for going overdrawn etc.

    Limit the number of credit cards a person can own, Legally set credit limits based on earnings/ability to pay back.

    If the Govt thought about it they could really do some good, they should not leave it upto the markets.

  • Comment number 74.

    My impression is that politicians have left the central bankers with the freedom to make decisions based upon their mandate and not superimpose "a mandate of the day" on them.

    With that experience as a guide, there should be reason to hope that decision-making in the banks will be indeed arm's-length.

  • Comment number 75.

    I wonder what the Dutch people thought this morning, waking up to find one of their biggest banks nationalised - by the Brits!

    OK, so it's all the rage these days, our main electricity supplier is French government owned, and our main railfreight company is German state railways owned. But it does still feel wrong.

    I still wouldn't be surprised to hear that Amro is to be sold back. The IT project to merge the 2 companies together is 100% over budget and not even close to complete, so selling would not involve huge unpicking of merged systems.

  • Comment number 76.

    Robert says "But the share price may rise" - hope springs eternal !!

    Update on terminology :-
    "Your Bank shares can go down as well as PLUMMET" !!!!

    We now have a Government who are not only good at spending our money but also now gambling with it !! Is this because they couldn't have their way with all of the casinos they wanted ? We are all now gambling in the super super casino - Red or Black which do you prefer ?? !!!!

    With all of these 'Nationalised' Banks does this mean "Sid" will be coming out of mothballs at a future date (10 years time ?) to 'sell' these shares back to the Market - if/when (?) the trading position/share price has improved ??!!

    More seriously - other questions:-

    Will the Government's value of their shareholding be offset against the overall Government borrowings to improve the balance sheet ?

    Could HBOS have gone the same way rather than go to LloydsTSB ?

  • Comment number 77.

    Robert, I think you've said it all.

  • Comment number 78.

    Whilst you say "we are explicitly and formally standing behind its entire, gargantuan balance sheet, its assets and its liabilities." by the figures provided in your post that is actually a balance sheet showing a positive £100bn (£2000bn assets - £1900bn liabilities). But because you juxtaposed the statement following just mention of the £1900bn liabilities it presents the situation as being that we are risking the whole £1900bn. More clarity required perhaps than scaremongering. Naturally the asssets may not be realisable in the current market but equally the debt can be paid down from trading profits. So only if RBS was wound up, which the government has shown will not be allowed, would we actiually know the true liability to the public purse.

    The government is quite right to leave the debt of companies they are shareholders in off their balance sheet. I as a shareholder of a company don't show any debt for a company I invest in against me personally! For public information sake it would be useful though if any public reporting of government debt showed a separate figure for the level of government guarantees against 3rd party debt.

    Despite my criticism keep up this excellent blog. I may not agree with it all the time but it is always thought provoking.

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    Regards GB and AD stitching us up by paying over the odds on our behalf for RBS, may I just say...!

  • Comment number 81.

    Its a fascinating situation.
    And a highly undesireable one...

    I don't run my household on Monopoly money. How on earth can the Government continue to get away with it ?

    At what point does the UK go bust ?
    And will this point change, as it did for Woolworths - who were OK to borrow £380m earlier in the year but have now had that debt called in.

    The numbers being bandied around this week, are a few hundred billion here, a couple of trillion there.

    It seems I'm participating in the International Fantasy Financial League and the UK and the USA are somewhere near the bottom of the table at the moment.

    Whilst Iceland have already been relegated...

    When the Westernised nations are all finally bankrupt, the next country to have a go at running the world will presumably be Saudia Arabia, and its wealthy oil-rich neighbours...

    Which would mean what exactly. Perhaps the licensing laws would change and we'd lose the binge-drinking culture. And to be honest that particular change might not be such a bad thing...

  • Comment number 82.

    I would urge all Public sector workers to go on a spending strike until they receive a proper pay rise.

    Only buy essentials until you get a ten percent pay rise !

    Holding peoples pay rises below Inflation has helped to get us all in this mess in the first place.

    Secondly write to you MP (whatever party) and ask them what plans do they have to help rebuild Britains economy.

    One useful plan would be to contract Housebuilders to build Social Housing on a big scale.

    That would be a useful application of Public money with a clear Public benefit attached.

  • Comment number 83.

    Mass social Housebuilding would cost Billions but far less than manipulating the UK Banking sector hasa cost.

  • Comment number 84.

    "But now that taxpayers own 58% of Royal Bank, we are explicitly and formally standing behind its entire, gargantuan balance sheet, its assets and its liabilities."

    Since when has the owner of a limited company been liable for its debts? We're not any more liable now than we were before (although that's still pretty liable, implicitly, due to the whole "too big to fail" thing).

  • Comment number 85.


    I guess we own 58% of the £1,900M debt as well though.

    I suspect the debt is more accurately valued than the "assets" though.

  • Comment number 86.

    Should we change the name to Royal Bank of Great Britain?

    Is there an arguement now for splitting it up? I know that size gives strength but it also seems to have led to inneficiency and higher costs to the Nat West account holders.

  • Comment number 87.

    58% = controlling interest rather than ownership as far as my maths go Robert. Another sensationalist comment.

    With RBS employing c100,000 people in the UK, do we really want this bank to go down and further depress an already depressing job market. No mention either of the multi billions in Corporation tax these big banks have paid over the boom years that has allowed the govt. to spend on all the thigs we love to moan about, police, nursing, education etc.

    The sooner this bail out happens the better and we return to a stable economy, return to profits and start the cycle over again.

  • Comment number 88.

    'Uncle Joe's Thirties and Uncle Gord's Noughties'. Compare and contrast.

    We better not trust in our Executive politicians . Some as G Brown and the whole Govt team in the Treasury seem to mismanage overseeing UK Banking plc...and then take over what they have mismanaged. The other Parties seemed to mismanage overseeing Govt.

    Put not your trust in the upper echelons of the Civil Service....possibily more inept than they are given credit (smile)...paid stellar salaries and even more stellar pensions. Some, such as Sir Peter Middleton, go on to run banks such as Barclays.

    Put not your trust in Haughty Bankers such as Sir Fred-the Shred who refused and refused and refused through his Investor Relations Department to answer my questions as a retail shareholder . Questions not only from 2008 but many others asked ever since HSBC first announced difficulties with sub-prime back in Feb of 2007.

    But above all put not your trust in Parliament and especially the Treasury Select Committee and even more especially John McFall-en. I wonder if civil servants, Central Banker(s) and other witnesses feel any twinge of contempt before going to give evidence.

    Perhaps it is only in our individual selves we can trust ?

  • Comment number 89.

    On the subject of the role of banks, I quite agree that many of them will become quasi-utilities. I was at a conference a few weeks ago and the themes that kept being repeated were that financial firms needed to:

    - make products simpler
    - explain them better
    - accept that banks' historical returns on equity were unsustainable

    This from a group comprising predominantly financial services providers, so I'm not sure there will be as much resistance as suggested from many players (Barclays is the UK exception, given its clear intentions in investment banking with the Lehman acquisition).

    I don't think it takes much to bring about a change in bank behaviour. Basing regulation on that of other consumer utilities such as energy providers will do much of what's needed. For example, cap banks' return on equity. Result? Much lower gearing, as "super-returns" earned via use of debt will be taxed away or otherwise precluded. What we don't need is an extension of FSA's rule book. 8,000 pages of regulation haven't worked, so why should 10,000 pages?

    There's also a need to improve education of consumers of financial products as to how products work, and the risk they carry. What this doesn't mean is that we need yet more small print associated with financial products. Frankly, that's the lazy way out that we've used for 20 years and its failed miserably. Just think of pensions mis-selling, endowment-linked mortgages, and others, never mind what's happened recently. Instead, we need something that makes the risk/reward discussion meaningful. Most consumers have very simply requirements, ie keep my money safe and make it grow a bit faster than inflation. It really should not be beyond the ability of the financial services industry to describe how various products do this, how each product meets particular consumer requirements, and the techniques used to deliver what consumers are asking for. If providers cannot explain these things simply, then they shouldn't be selling them.

    If State ownership leads to a situation of better understanding of financial products (not least in the Board rooms of the entities providing them), then it will prove to be a valuable benefit to everyone. One thing we can all agree on is that too many senior bank executives were absolutely clueless as to the risks their organisations were taking. I suspect there is little appetite to return to that position, with or without State ownership.

  • Comment number 90.

    Post 67 DELETED

    I suggested that we had all just purchased

    a VERY rotten pie.

    Amongst other NASTY things.

  • Comment number 91.

    As Robert Preston makes clear, the RBS shares being sold (and bought by the government) are new shares, the proceeds of which are being used to recapitalise the bank. What is interesting is the apparent asset value of RBS of £2,000 bn. On the face of it paying £23bn for 58% of a business with £2,000 bn of assets seems a really good deal, even taking into account the £1,900 bn of liabilities. The real question is are the assets real and are the liabilities understated?

    In a few years' time, the government will no doubt seek to sell the shares back to the private sector. It is only then that we will know what the real value of RBS.

    The question that is being posed is what are banks for? Getting the right answer to this question, and getting the regulatory and legislative rules in place to stop any future credit crunch is essential, and is something that will need to be done not only in the UK, but internationally.

  • Comment number 92.

    RP is serving the Gov't with every breath.

    Thats obvious.

  • Comment number 93.

    1) Why would you take your money out of NatWest - surely now it is safer than ever!

    Worth remembering that in turning banks into cogs and removing those supernormal profits (which many seem to think is no bad thing) we will of course be leaving a gaping hole in our pension funds and tax revenues (both direct and indirect).

    Personally, I think that in the medium to long term - 5 yrs + - the government will make a big profit out of it's share underwriting. We have already seen that these banks are too big for the government to allow them to go bust and, to be honest, if they don't show some sort of recovery then we as a nation are in a lot of trouble. Government is getting 12% return on the £5bn of pref shares - not a bad deal if you ask me.

    I think it's time for people to get off their moral high horses and accept that we as a nation benefitted in tax revenues, jobs, pensions, etc from the growth in the Financial Services Sector so rather than sitting here bleating about people who were creating wealth and jobs we should get off our backsides (after all, if the banks just made pretend profits like Robert says then does, for example) the journalist who writes about these pretend profits really add any more value)?

    I am sure we could all find moral flaws in ourselves if we look below the surface so rather than screaming about everyone else's, just accept that it is part of human nature - some questions of morality are more serious than others.

  • Comment number 94.

    In my humble opinion Labour are truly "selling Britain (sic) by the pound".

    What's really sad is that most of the Labour party are so wrapped up in themselves that they cannot (or do not wish to) see the damage they continue to do to the soul of the country I was once so proud of.

  • Comment number 95.

    Given the scale of the disaster that is and will be the UK economy for years to come, isn't it amazing that Brown is being given 'credit' by the electorate for being the right man to sort it out?

    The economic record for the last 10 years - Brown's tenure as Chancellor - is now exposed as a sham with unsustainable debt-driven expenditure (corporate, govt and personal) concealing the weakness of the UK economy.

  • Comment number 96.

    The new range of LAVATORY Paper is




    Cash with order to all UK retailers

    Free samples to every UK household

    The choice is yours


    That will just FLUSH AWAY with your used


  • Comment number 97.

    #62 Well done Mark!!

    Your previous comment "A place at the table for Mr Damian Green and Mr Vincent Cable perhaps?

    I don't think we should exclude responsible politicians etc"

    I agree with this. That is why I think we should frame a set of minimal principles and ask ALL candidates to sign up to them. Those who don't we vote against. Those who do, we, as individuals, choose between based on their other ideas and track record.

    I need a week or so and then I'll put up a dummy page on my own (obsoleteish) site for comment. I haven't updated it for 18 months as I've been busy with house renovations and sorting out my late mother's stuff.

    my site:

    I have my own web design template, as I run two websites, and another little commercial one as a favour for a friend.

  • Comment number 98.

    I wonder, will the several hundred pounds in penalty bank charges which I am disputing with RBS now be repaid.

    As majority shareholder surely the treasurey should lean on RBS to end the more despicable aspects of personal banking..

  • Comment number 99.

    This could prove to be a worthwhile experiment.

    To see how well this bank (RBS) that is bound to be more tightly controlled and regulated and less prone to reckless risk taking, can perform against the more traditional banks that are less tightly controlled and regulated and more prone to reckelss risk taking.

    Also because in the past ordinary account holders have had such a lousy deal from the more traditional banks, now might be a good time for them to transfer their accounts to a better controlled and regulated bank.

    Ordinary account holders now have the power to vote with their feet against some of the past injustices they have had to endure from those banks whose main interest was the pursuit of big bonus payouts for the bankers and shareholders. Now we can leave the risk taking to those who benefit from it the most, the bankers and shareholders.

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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