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RBS is in the doghouse again

Needs to hold £13.6bn cash.

Photograph: Getty Images

RBS is in the doghouse yet again after the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), the Bank of England’s new banking regulator, announced that despite their best efforts five of the biggest UK banks will need to find an additional £13bn capital to cover their risks.  

To put it in perspective, that's twice the amount the PRA said RBS would have to come up when it released its report at the end of 2012. Back then the PRA named RBS as the worst offender in a list of top banks and building societies needing to fill a £27bn hole in their balance sheets. Yep, you heard that right. Banks are being told that should both be lending out more money to get the economy moving while at the same time being told they need to shore up their cash reserves in case everything goes to hell again. And in a timely manner, the Conservatives have an election to win soon.

Just to make RBS look even worse this news came in hot on the heels of George Osborne’s self-satisfied announcement that 39 per cent tax-payer owned Lloyds is ready for full re-privatisation while RBS may need to be split into a "good" and "bad" bank before it can be sold off. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which part the tax payer will be left with.

RBS alone accounts for £13.6bn of the total outstanding cash that banks need to hold. Making up the remainder are Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, Co-operative Bank and Nationwide Building Society.

All of the banks, the PRA admits, have put good plans in to collect together the required capital but the regulator is coming to wildly different conclusions about how much the banks will actually save. According to the PRA actions planned by RBS in 2013 would reduce this gap to £3.2bn. However, RBS has said by its own estimate the shortfall was scheduled to be £400m by the end of the year.

Doesn’t a calculation difference of £2.8bn from two government controlled operations just fill you with confidence?