Sell! Sell! Sell! It's a dead cat bank bounce!
The government should sell our shares in the banks now. Today. Cash in the chips - quick!
When we stuck ÃÂ£billions into the banks at the height of the crisis an RBS share was worth less than 11p and Lloyds went to as low as 20p.
Last night (and pretty unbelievably) RBS hit 58p and Lloyds went above 70p.
Their value has increased 75% in no more than two months. ÃÂ£26bn was calculated as the combined loss on both stakes at the end of last year. It's now a profit of ÃÂ£9.4bn.
The Guardian has calculated that the profit on the 84% stake in RBS last night stood at ÃÂ£7.4bn while the taxpayer's 41% share in Lloyds was worth almost ÃÂ£2bn more than the Treasury paid for it. The fees charged by the government to the Banks announced in the budget has added further value.
The government should get out now. The dead cat is in bounce but will splat back onto the pavement before too long.
A dead cat bounce is an investment phenomenon where a brief rally in a share or asset appears to indicate a suddenly increasing value, whereas in reality it is in its death throes. A dead cat, if thrown from the top of a skyscraper, will, when it hits the ground, bounce appearing to have last-minute life.
The UK should cash in now. But it should not use the cash to reduce the deficit. It should, instead use it immediately to compete in the banking business (against the same banks we bailed out) by setting up a new banking sector designed to invest in British Businesses and people. A banking sector that the existing market has proved it cannot and will not provide.
Instead of stupidly relying on the bailed out bankers to invest in business and people, the new banks can do it straight away. Old Banks only understand lending to business, and lending short-term through loans and overdrafts giving them maximum control. They do not 'get' that what we need to do is not lend to business, but invest in business, long term.
And the Old Banks can carry on as before, but eventually become irrelevant as Real Banking replaces Old Banking.
The government should specifically set up an industrial bank and a series of regional investment banks to invigorate the regional economies in places like the Midlands; and, yes, Northern Ireland and the North East, David Cameron!
It should take equity shares in regional businesses, which shares will actually bring a super-charged investment return much more quickly than if it had remained in the Old Banks' shares. The return is super-charged because the return is more than just on paper: the effect of the successful local business invested in has a wider impact on its local economies and communities.
The bank shares bounce is unsustaninable and is a figment of stock market investors' fevered imaginations that 'it's all over'. Business-as-usual sentiment on both sides of the Atlantic has caused a stock market surge that simply does not bear any relation to the real world, financial or otherwise.
If these shares plummet - as I believe they could - and the government's investment goes back into the red, the failure (by this or any future government) to trade in these shares now will be regarded as a missed opportunity of momentous proportions.
An indication to brokers to sell might, of course, cause the shares to plummet themselves. And this in itself would show that fellow investors (in Lloyds for example) are piggy-backing on the UK taxpayers' investment and making easy money in return.That's a windfall. It also shows how false and unrealistic the market actually is.
But Lloyds (and, perhaps, RBS) would be desperate to get out of the government's clutches and could surely organise their mates to buy the shares or (as much of the government's initial investment was through preference shares) simply agree to a profitable (for the taxpayer) redemption of the shares.
And we can dump the insurance we have provided for their assets as well. They can clearly look after themselves now. We need to charge a further hefty exit fee on the way out to reflect the impact of overall government support over the last 2 years.
We can then leave 'the market' to price in the real value of these banks' assets as they should have done all along. We would no longer be responsible for the biggest hedge fund in financial history that is our investment in these banks.
Lemons ripen before peaches and these bank shares are not peaches, they are absolute lemons. But accept the lemon now, don't wait for them to turn into peaches.
We only want a break even. To wait in the belief that these shares will soar even further would be madness. This is a short window of opportunity. We should act now.
Perhaps all three party leaders could agree we dump the shares tomorrow! (Fat chance, eh?)
P.S. No animals were harmed in the creation of this blog.The cats' eyes were blotted out electronically and the copy/pasted cat was alive when the original picture was taken.
Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons, HSBC building, Michael Pead Sharealike 2.0 UK England and Wales licence (cat additions and adaptations by John Clancy)