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British banks in worst state since 2008

Britain’s top banks are set for one of their worst first-quarter earnings seasons since the financial crisis, according to Lawrence White and Andrew Macaskill at Reuters:

“Despite shoring up their capital bases and paying out strong dividends, the five biggest banks – HSBC (HSBA.L), Barclays (BARC.L), Standard Chartered (STAN.L), Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) – have collectively seen their shares fall about 11 percent this year against a 1.5 percent rise in the FTSE 100 .FTSE.

“The costs of laying off staff, compensating customers missold loan payment protection insurance and stockpiling cash to settle outstanding lawsuits and regulatory investigations are all expected to compound the hit to quarterly profits from record-low interest rates.”

The results are more bad news for George – “I forgot to mend the roof when the sun was shining” – Osborne, who set about the task of banking reform in the wake of the crash of 2008 with all the zeal of a pair of arthritic pensioners out for a Sunday afternoon stroll.

In the ordinary course of the business cycle, a recession comes around every 6-9 years.  We were already two years into the post-2008 cycle when Osborne became Chancellor.  That left him with 4-7 years to take the radical action required to ensure that taxpayers would never again have to bail out the so-called “too big to fail” banks.  Instead, there has been little in the way of reform, and the rest of us are still on the hook for the same half-a-dozen bloated banks that caused the problems in the first place.

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