Belfast Telegraph

Don't bank too much on smooth road ahead

By David Elliot

You might think it's holiday season but there's been a plethora of banking and economic stories going on in the background.

One, the final workings out of the Ulster Bank payment backlog, even seems to have revealed something that doesn't occur very often: co-operation between banks.

Ulster Bank said other banks are working with it to nullify charges on the accounts of its customers which have resulted from the breakdown of the RBS IT system and subsequent delay to payments.

Much like Bradley Wiggins, the lead rider in the current Tour de France cycle race, who slowed the peleton on Sunday to wait for rival Cadel Evans when the latter fell foul of some maliciously-placed tacks, so it seems rival banks have shown some sportsmanship to Ulster Bank in its hour of need (okay, okay, maybe those are the ramblings of someone overly embroiled in one of the greatest cycling races for years).

Whether the Donegall Square bank's rivals will be as gracious when it comes to charging Ulster Bank for helping to rectify the problem remains to be seen.

But you can bet your bottom dollar that, like Wiggins, they'll be just as competitive now that the tyres have been replaced and we're nearly back up to racing speed.

Away from the jostling in the peleton the road ahead either looks like one of the steepest mountain stages or a gentle downhill glide to the finishing line, depending on who you listen to.

The International Monetary Fund says the global economic recovery is still at risk and the eurozone economies are balanced on a knife edge.

Meanwhile, the Ernst and Young Item Club reckons the UK economy is going to witness an Indian summer after an iffy first half, also echoing the sentiments of anyone who has been optimistically watching the weather forecast.

Whichever you believe there's no reason to stop pedalling because you never know when someone might throw a few tacks on the road.

Perseverance will make sure the yellow jersey is yours.

Meanwhile, back in front of the Parliamentary Select Committee the Libor soap opera runs on.

There, the problem revolves around too much co-operation between banks when it comes to revealing the rate at which they lend to each other.

Yesterday yet another executive was dragged into the scandal, this time a compliance officer who is meant to police the operations at a bank like Barclays.

But, as yesterday's testimony by the bank's former operating officer suggests, it appears as if the CEO Bob Diamond was more involved in setting the bank's lending rate than he suggested last week.

Another call up for Mr Diamond looks likely and this time the questions might be a little tougher.