RBS is in the doghouse again

Needs to hold £13.6bn cash.

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?

Photograph: Getty Images

Billy Bambrough writes for Retail Banker International at VRL financial news.
 

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Is there such a thing as responsible betting?

Punters are encouraged to bet responsibly. What a laugh that is. It’s like encouraging drunks to get drunk responsibly, to crash our cars responsibly, murder each other responsibly.

I try not to watch the commercials between matches, or the studio discussions, or anything really, before or after, except for the match itself. And yet there is one person I never manage to escape properly – Ray Winstone. His cracked face, his mesmerising voice, his endlessly repeated spiel follow me across the room as I escape for the lav, the kitchen, the drinks cupboard.

I’m not sure which betting company he is shouting about, there are just so many of them, offering incredible odds and supposedly free bets. In the past six years, since the laws changed, TV betting adverts have increased by 600 per cent, all offering amazingly simple ways to lose money with just one tap on a smartphone.

The one I hate is the ad for BetVictor. The man who has been fronting it, appearing at windows or on roofs, who I assume is Victor, is just so slimy and horrible.

Betting firms are the ultimate football parasites, second in wealth only to kit manufacturers. They have perfected the capitalist’s art of using OPM (Other People’s Money). They’re not directly involved in football – say, in training or managing – yet they make millions off the back of its popularity. Many of the firms are based offshore in Gibraltar.

Football betting is not new. In the Fifties, my job every week at five o’clock was to sit beside my father’s bed, where he lay paralysed with MS, and write down the football results as they were read out on Sports Report. I had not to breathe, make silly remarks or guess the score. By the inflection in the announcer’s voice you could tell if it was an away win.

Earlier in the week I had filled in his Treble Chance on the Littlewoods pools. The “treble” part was because you had three chances: three points if the game you picked was a score draw, two for a goalless draw and one point for a home or away win. You chose eight games and had to reach 24 points, or as near as possible, then you were in the money.

“Not a damn sausage,” my father would say every week, once I’d marked and handed him back his predictions. He never did win a sausage.

Football pools began in the 1920s, the main ones being Littlewoods and Vernons, both based in Liverpool. They gave employment to thousands of bright young women who checked the results and sang in company choirs in their spare time. Each firm spent millions on advertising. In 1935, Littlewoods flew an aeroplane over London with a banner saying: Littlewoods Above All!

Postwar, they blossomed again, taking in £50m a year. The nation stopped at five on a Saturday to hear the scores, whether they were interested in football or not, hoping to get rich. BBC Sports Report began in 1948 with John Webster reading the results. James Alexander Gordon took over in 1974 – a voice soon familiar throughout the land.

These past few decades, football pools have been left behind, old-fashioned, low-tech, replaced by online betting using smartphones. The betting industry has totally rebooted itself. You can bet while the match is still on, trying to predict who will get the next goal, the next corner, the next throw-in. I made the last one up, but in theory you can bet instantly, on anything, at any time.

The soft sell is interesting. With the old football pools, we knew it was a remote flutter, hoping to make some money. Today the ads imply that betting on football somehow enhances the experience, adds to the enjoyment, involves you in the game itself, hence they show lads all together, drinking and laughing and putting on bets.

At the same time, punters are encouraged to do it responsibly. What a laugh that is. It’s like encouraging drunks to get drunk responsibly, to crash our cars responsibly, murder each other responsibly. Responsibly and respect are now two of the most meaningless words in the football language. People have been gambling, in some form, since the beginning, watching two raindrops drip down inside the cave, lying around in Roman bathhouses playing games. All they’ve done is to change the technology. You have to respect that.

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 05 February 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's war