HSBC yesterday announced half-year profits of £2.98 billion. And Barclays yesterday announced half-year profits of £2.98 billion.
City analysts said that the identical numbers were no coincidence, as the two banks had quietly bought each other up during the financial panic last autumn, while everyone was distracted by the twitching corpse of Lehman Brothers, the brief possibility that Gordon Brown might not be so utterly detestably useless after all, and the horrific knowledge that George Bush was still actually President.
According to one City commentator, the two institutions are now in fact one institution, while also still being two, in a way that is impossible either to understand or to deny. “It’s a bit like the Holy Trinity, only without the other one.”
“This sort of thing is quite rare but perfectly sound in theory,” said a City observer. “If the two don’t just merge but simultaneously each buys the other in full, then you get a situation where HSBC owns everything that Barclays does, and in turn Barclays owns all of HSBC, and so on. It means that they get to count each other’s assets as their own as many times over as they like, and that any losses can be ignored as relating to their subsidiary and/or parent company.”
A City pundit added: “This kind of bold innovation will allow finance to rise like a phoenix made out cocaine from the ashes of the credit crunch caused by mortgage-backed securities, collateralised debt obligations, credit default swaps, Jews and special investment vehicles.”
(And on the subject of bank profits, I recommend The Daily Mash: “Furious fatcat taxpayer money bonus and angry meltdown shame greed, it emerged today. Barclay men show disgraced £3bn taxpayer jobless recession profit despite shame bonus and taxpayer meltdown crunch disaster. But as bank shame anger rose to fatcat, outraged tax money say bail-out meltdown pay for risky bonus shame greed fury.”)