Just when you thought the disaster at RBS couldn’t get any worse, it did.
The size of these new losses five years after the financial crisis first exploded – five years! - does more than just boggle the mind. It empties the wallets of all of us whose taxes were spent rescuing the most disastrously-run bank in the western world.
If ever we had dared to dream that we would get all of that £46bn bailout money back, we should wake up now. It ain’t happening. Not soon. Probably not ever.
Furthermore, if we ever thought we could rely on RBS to expand lending to the small businesses who are being starved of capital, we should think again. Just look at those newly-reduced capital ratios.
The company is right to have stopped the bonuses of its top eight executives. Sadly, in the topsy-turvy world of financial services, it’s also probably right to insist on being able to pay the insane going rate for its investment bankers – word in the City is that the banks are likely to start recruiting again this year, making it harder to retain staff. The RBS duck is lame enough as it is, without a brain drain.
That’s yet another grotesque irritant in a saga in which it’s hard to find positives anywhere. But there is perhaps one thing.
As stock markets and governments rejoice in the early signs of economic recovery, RBS remind us sharply: the financial world is still far from fixed.