On the face of it, RBS shareholders (that means you George Osborne) should be cheering after the bank released its second quarter results today. Attributable profits were up 27% to £293m for the three months to June 30, even if the bank still can’t pay a dividend.
Compared to last quarter, it’s even better – RBS made a loss of £446m at the start of the year. Indeed, analysts expected another loss this time round, an error which usually sends the markets into a frenzy (just look at Amazon). So why has the share price only risen a measly 0.5% to 355p?
The sunny headline profit figures obscure a darker and more complex picture. RBS is still in the throes of a painful and costly metamorphosis, from the acquisitive, high-stakes playboy of the Fred Goodwin era to a smaller, more austere creature, the type that owns the four identical pairs of the same shoes and polishes them every night. Think of it as a sort of rehab.