you're reading...

Not everyone is feeling the pain in Portugal

What with record unemployment, a massive squeeze on incomes and welfare and public services being slashed, it’s tough for the Portuguese these days. Not for all of them, mind you. Not the shareholders and top executives of Portugal’s banks.

True, the country’s banks are now in the red, with the largest sustaining collective losses in excess of Euros 1 billion in 2011. The EU-IMF-ECB sponsored austerity measures have sent the country into a deep recession and so they’ve been left with a mountain of bad debts. And then there’s that bad gambling habit in Greece that for a good period of time was highly lucrative, but now their luck has definitely turned. The EU has also demanded they ‘deleverage’, that is, that they lend less for any given quantity of capital in the coffers, meaning fewer possibilities of a quick speculative profit.

But, unlike your average João who has little if any chance of accessing affordable credit to tide him through until better times come, top banks like Banco Comercial Portugues, Banco Espirito Santo and Banco BPI have never had it better. They can borrow almost for free, or at a 1% interest rate from the European Central Bank. And then in a fantastic wheeze, the banks lend the money back, at a significant premium, to governments who are in effect the ones behind the same dirt cheap ECB loans.  They make a handsome profit, for doing nothing, literally. For the government is also asking them nicely to lend to businesses and consumers, but there’s not much sign of this.

And if the bank’s larger shareholders are less than happy today with the share price performance, they can at least comfort themselves with the thought of their nice little nest egg, built up from their share of the £6 billion in dividends paid out over the past decade or so.

The banks’ executives, meanwhile, have to put up with packages are a little less shiny these days, but at least it is reassuring to know they are not among the 1,000 or so bank workers losing their jobs, along with the closure of 150 odd branches around the country. And they can also remind themselves of the piles of cash they have in their own personal offshore accounts, full to brimming with all those bonuses linked to the Euros 24 billion profits they’ve made from largely idiotic investments over the last 10 years.

But most importantly, there’s the thought that if it gets really tough, the bank executives can rely on a fresh hand out (aka ‘recapitalization’) of Euros 12 billion of public money, which is part  of the Euros 78 billion IMF-EU-ECB package with lethal austerity strings attached and reserved, not for bankers who caused the country’s downfall, but for the misery of João and millions of other ordinary Portuguese.

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or email [email protected]


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter Updates

  • Why the #Eurozone can afford spending for #growth: wp.me/p2QSHv-19B via @europeansting #imf #troika #economy #germany 11 hours ago
  • Employers call for 'tax haven' in France | Patrick Apel-Muller | Revolting Europe wp.me/p1bMfw-1Rk 19 hours ago
  • A Week in Revolting #Europe wp.me/p1bMfw-16u #spain #austerity #banks #italy #politics #greece #portugal #jobs #troika #protest 1 day ago
  • #Syriza's alternatives to #austerity cuts| Interview with Panos Lamprou | Revolting #Europe wp.me/p1bMfw-1R8 2 days ago
  • French Rail: A Short History of Liberalization - L'Humanité in English humaniteinenglish.com/spip.php?artic… 2 days ago
  • #Women's rights, #health being rolled back in Eastern #Europe as curbs on abortion spread. IPS shar.es/kgsJk 2 days ago
  • Why Greece is slashing public sector jobs wp.me/p1bMfw-1R3 3 days ago
  • Flash mob performances hit #Italy's beaches, as #women campaign over domestic violence, deregulation . ANSA ansa.it/web/notizie/ru… 3 days ago
  • While the #EU frets over #Hungary #Italy's democracy burns. My piece on Left Foot Forward leftfootforward.org/2013/07/it-is-… 4 days ago
  • #Troika destroys 500,000 jobs in #Portugal | Revolting #Europe wp.me/p1bMfw-1QW #imf #ecb 4 days ago
Follow @tomgilltweets

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Key facts and figures on wages across the EU

Wealth Inequality in Europe

Get the key facts and figures


A different take on European issues

Italy’s Healthcare Crisis

Health services are ‘close to collapse’ in Rome, Turin and Naples after years of cuts and privatisation.


99% of the 167 000 Madrilenos who signed a petition rejected the sell off local water company

Filthy Rich

France's Bernard Arnault of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) empire is worth $41 billion. Check out Europe's rich list


Private banks receive half-trillion-euro gift from ECB


Workers and citizens stand up for themselves


Workers are on a go-slow over privatisation

Massive Spanish protest

Half a million take to the streets over labour market deregulation


Hundreds of workers occupied the factory of ArcelorMittal in Florange in the north of France

International Workers Day

International Workers Day 2012


Anti-social Europe in numbers

RSS Watching Corporate Europe

  • From cigarettes to coconuts: Dalli’s Bahamas trips and the Commissioners’ Code of Conduct
  • Eurobills: Not a progressive solution for the European debt crisis
  • MEPs code of conduct failing to prevent potential conflicts of interest

RSS Hate Crimes in Europe

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Fight discrimination in Europe – Amnesty Int’l

  • Listen to Roma Rights
  • Peaceful Budapest Pride March, but a worrying hate attack following the march


in Italy the home is a very dangerous place to be


Workers down tools over PM Monti's attack on labour rights


Concentration camps and a massive migrant marine cemetery





Read the statement by Lafontaine and Melenchon

PM Rajoy One Year On

Spaniards are not impressed








The Dossier