In January, Barclays Chief Executive Bob Diamond told the Treasury Select Committee that the banks had done enough apologising.
“There was a period of remorse and apology for banks. I think that period needs to be over,” said Diamond (quoted in the Daily Telegraph).
Yesterday, the FSA and US regulators fined Barclays £290 million for the bank’s attempt to manipulate interest rates. This was the biggest sanction ever handed out by Britain’s financial industry watchdog. Other banks may be involved.
Last week one of the country’s biggest retail banks – RBS (through its NatWest and Ulster Bank operations) – showed it can no longer manage to carry out basic banking transactions. As many as 100,000 Ulster Bank customers have been told they will not have access to their money until Monday 2 July at the earliest.
And – as the doughty Liam Halligan reminds us almost every week – we really have no idea of the true size of British bank liabilities. Somewhere, hidden off the balance sheets, lie billions of pounds of undeclared losses: estimated at £40 billion.
Taxpayers and (already heavily indebted) states will no doubt – once again – be expected to fill the bankers’ black hole.
So… has the time really come for the banks to stop apologising?
* from Monday’s Financial Times. Hat tip to Neil.