Today was an unusual day. For the first time in years I won a PMQ in the weekly ballot for the opportunity to ask a question.
I decided to ask him what had happened to the £700 billion of assets that disappeared from the RBS balance sheet in 2009. You would have thought he might have noticed it and taken an intelligent interest in it. After all, £700 billion is more than the government spends each year, and is around half the national income. Now we own a bank on this scale, it would be nice to know the boss was in charge and knew the numbers and understood the strategy.
My purpose in asking was to highlight the conflict in current policy. The public sector is made to spend more and more to “keep the economy going”, whilst the private sector remains under an intense squeeze. RBS has been forced into collapsing its balance sheet by huge sums to meet new requirements for more cash and capital relative to the amount it lends and trades.
I am trying to find out if the government realises it is squeezing the private sector too hard and is doing it because it really does want an ever bigger public sector at all costs, or whether it does not realise that its Banking Regulator is holding back the recovery. I am none the wiser, but hope others may take up this important quesiton on the back of my PMQ. With major banks slimming this quickly it is no wonder mortgages and business credit are scarce and dear.