A tale of two data sets

AS IF a hundred pages of figures weren’t enough, Barclays delivered two sets of headline numbers yesterday.

The first, “statutory” figures, which include the impact of a £1bn PPI provision, showed half-year return on equity (RoE) falling from 9.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent. But the “adjusted” figures told the opposite story: returns are up from 6.9 per cent to 9.1 per cent.

The latter figures are the “right ones” to look at, Bob Diamond assured us, naturally. In some ways, he makes a fair point: “PPI was very unusual”. But banks have posted an awful lot of “one-off” impairments and hits to the bottom line recently.

Still, there were at least signs yesterday that Diamond’s Blair-like mantra – “execution, execution, execution” – is now moving from motto to reality. Barring a market meltdown, the bank’s ambitious targets might just start to look achievable.