Autumn 2008 and the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is in dire economic trouble and the recipient of a £46 billion by the Government in exchange for a 78% stake, a cost of 502p per share.
Eight years later and the man in charge of the economy decides that now is the right time to cash in some of those shares and in a magnificent bit of dealership, sold 5.4% of the stake at 330p a share, a loss of £1bn on what the Government paid for them.
To fend off the criticism, George Osborne has tried to justify the substantial loss on the shares by saying it was the right thing to do for the British taxpayer and the sale raised £2.1bn to set off against the deficit.
It was also argued that the rescue of RBS in 2008 was not an investment, but was an emergency measure to prevent Britain’s banking system collapsing into the abyss.
All very true but we may ask why the rush to sell them now?
The RBS shares were trading at above 400p as recently as February and so by no stretch of the imagination has Chancellor got the British taxpayer value for money.
We still hold 73% of the bank and if these shares are sold at the same price then for our £46bn outlay, we will receive £31bn and take a hit of £15bn.
Why Osbourne had to sell them now to private investors, when the price is at its lowest, should be asked and when the Government severe cuts to welfare and tax credits start to bite, it should be remembered who cost the country another £15bn.