Yesterday I was struck by the juxtaposition of two news items. The devestating floods in Pakistan, and the profits of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in the UK.
In Pakistan the worst floods in the region for 80 years have killed at least 1,600 people and affected about 12 million others. 650,000 houses have been destroyed 1.4m acres (557,000 hectares) of crop land has been flooded and more than 10,000 cows have died.
Gen Nadeem Ahmed, of the Pakistani National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said the cost of rebuilding roads was some 5bn Pakistani rupees ($59m, £38m), while the bill for fixing damage to power infrastructure and dams would come to another 2.5bn rupees. (Source: BBC website.)
According to my sums, added together, that makes a total of 7.5bn Pakistani rupees, $88.5m US dollars, or 57m British pounds.
On the same day, there was this headline:
“Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 84%-owned by the taxpayer, reports a pre-tax profit of £1.14bn for the first half of the year.” (Source: BBC website, my italics.)
I’ll round things up, to simplify matters. A billion is a thousand million. It looks like this: 1,000,000,000. 50 million isn’t half a billion. That would be 500 million. Fifty million looks like this: 50,000,000. Let’s put the two side by side:
50 million goes into a billion 20 times.
So by my rough calcuation, a small bank, in a small country, in western Europe could use a twentieth of their half year profits to take care of the entire reconstruction of the infrastructure in Pakistan. And we’re allegedly in the middle of an economic crisis. I know of course it’s not that simple. But it still seems to me that the world economy is more than a little out of kilter.
Does that make me a communist?