Tuesday, 3 August 2010

HSBC bank big-wigs brag of super-profits

From today's Morning Star

Louise Nousratpour

Banking giant HSBC has boasted that it had more than doubled half-year profits to £7.2 billion - prompting demands for a windfall tax and the nationalisation of the banking system.

The British-based group's super-profits roared 121 per cent ahead in the first six months of this year as bad debts plunged to their lowest level since the financial crisis.

In Britain, where HSBC cut 4,600 jobs last year, profits totalled £1.3 billion, an increase of 26 per cent. The bank has also set aside £6.2bn in staff pay, bonuses and benefits for the first half of the year - up 7 per cent on a year earlier.

Left campaigners said that the recent super-profits announced by the corporate sector confirmed that we are not "all in this together," as Prime Minister David Cameron keeps telling the nation, with big business flourishing while Chancellor George Osborne "robs ordinary people of £6bn in austerity measures."

Left Economics Advisory Panel co-ordinator Andrew Fisher said: "The eye-watering figures from HSBC reinforce the fact that the corporate sector has had a good recession.

"We are seeing the same phenomenon whether it's BT, British Gas or the banks - corporate profitability restored to or above pre-recession levels, while the recession they barely felt is used as an excuse to cut jobs, suppress wages and raise prices."

Mr Fisher warned that a "stark class warfare" was being waged by the Con-Dem government and "its corporate pals who were given £25bn in tax breaks in the last Budget.

"The reality is that the government still holds over £850bn in bank assets.

"There is no need for a single job to be cut or for a penny to be taken away from a single public service."

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths renewed the labour movement's demand for a windfall tax on all super profits and for the banking sector to be brought in-house to plug the deficit and fund public services.

"Banks were kept afloat because the government and the Bank of England pumped £1.3 trillion into Britain's financial system, yet the working class are being forced to pay the cost of the crisis while the fat cats grow fatter on their ill-gotten gains," he added.

Britain's other major banks are due to report their results later this week. Part-nationalised Lloyds is forecast to report £800 million in profits, while the 83 per cent state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is expected to post interim profits of around £200 million.

Labour leadership frontrunners David and Ed Miliband have both called for the recently introduced banking levy to be doubled.

David Miliband told a south London party meeting on Sunday that the tax, expected to raise £2bn a year from banks, was "incredibly small."

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