Government Has Already Lost £8 Billion in the Banks

If you thought your pension portfolio was doing badly you should see the government’s share portfolio. When it decided to nationalise banks HM Treasury said:

The Government’s investments will be managed on a commercial basis by a new arm’s-length company, ‘UK Financial Investments Limited’ (UKFI), which is wholly owned by the Government. Its overarching objectives will be to protect and create value for the taxpayer as shareholder…

UKFI of course differs from other funds “managed on a commercial basis” in one important respect, it is unable to sell underperforming assets, and underperform they have, destroying value for the taxpayers as shareholders.

Barclays took petro-dollars to recapitalise, so could and should have these banks. Northern Rock should have been put into receivership and whatever was of value sold to other banks. Instead, somewhat pointlessly, taxpayers have been lumbered with an £8 billion loss to date. The government is no better at investing in banks than it was at investing in British Leyland.

Instead of being lost in the stock market, £8 billion could have been used to raise tax thresholds by £1000 per income taxpayer for a year with plenty leftover. Helping those on lower incomes the most.




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