Simon English: Lloyds boss says we are not all doomed, and he should know

Outlook Predicting is difficult, especially for the future. Ask any City economist. They'll tell you. Lloyds Banking Group boss Antonio Horta-Osorio isn't an economist. Which does at least give him a chance of getting it right. One day after ghastly GDP figures suggest we are all in the mire, he popped up with half-year results and the following message: be calm. The end of the world is not nigh.

Lloyds' size — it is the biggest bank in the UK since its forced takeover of HBOS — means Mr Horta-Osorio is in possession of as much economic data as nearly anyone in Britain. If folk out there were really, really in trouble, he'd be among the first to know.

You hope Sir Mervyn King at the Bank of England rings him at least once a fortnight for a casual how-are-things-going chat.

On the basis of the rate at which Lloyds' customers are repaying their loans and otherwise managing their financial affairs, he thinks things are going ok, relatively.

The bank is still in a considerable mess, he would admit, but that doesn't mean customers are.

The Lloyds numbers, some of them anyway, are shocking. The extra £700m to cover PPI mis-selling claims is eye-watering. And while many of these claims are doubtless spurious, it is hard to have much sympathy for an industry whose business model is very largely based on selling people total rubbish then offering compensation later when they get found out.

Anyway, that didn't happen on Mr Horta-Osorio's watch and we can hope he means it when he pledges a complete change in culture.

Issues from the past will continue to haunt the company, he concedes, but it will deal with them in a way that eventually restores trust.

In the meantime, well, life may not be so bad. His economic predictions are that this year will be tough, flat at best. And that next year the economy will improve. That's roughly what he has been saying for a while. The only difference is that back then people thought he was being pessimistic and now they think he is being optimistic.

Those GDP figures may be a blip he says, and he is not alone here. If unemployment is falling, how can we really be in recession? Because of the seemingly never-ending crisis, the mood in financial markets and dealing rooms is glum. But just because the City is depressed, it doesn't mean the rest of us have to be.

After some time off last year for tiredness following a period of overwork, Mr Horta-Osorio sounds chipper. And in the long run, taking a three-year view, and assuming the eurozone crisis does eventually pass, his shares must be cheap at 29p.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'