Rebooting banks: challengers and challenging software

RBS sign Image copyright AFP/Getty

Royal Bank of Scotland has been eye-balling its shareholders at the annual general meeting in Edinburgh, with a warning that the legacy of its misdeeds requires yet more clearing up.

Maybe next year could see things turn sort of normal.

There's always next year.

To hasten the process, chief executive Ross McEwan told reporters at the meeting that he is considering an out-of-court settlement with shareholders who are suing the bank over Fred Goodwin's £12bn rights issue eight years ago.

That was - as few could forget - a few months before RBS had to be bailed out.

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Oil's climbing back

North Sea il rig Image copyright Nexen

The cocktail of dirty sticky stuff extracted from the Brent and other oil fields off Aberdeen is having a lot more impact on the world economy than it is on the Scottish election campaign.

The softening of Scottish economic performance - much of it driven by the weakness in the oil and sector, though probably not all - has barely registered in the campaign.

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Sturgeon the surgeon?

Bins Image copyright PA
Image caption Emptying bins is one of many services carried out by councils

There could be more change afoot from the Scottish National Party than their rivals are alleging. Sure, they're looking relatively tame in their use of new taxation powers.

But another theme can be found in their manifesto, which - if the polls are any guide - may become a feature of the next few years in Scotland's public life.

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Shipping forecast: visibility moderate to poor

Type-26 frigate Image copyright BAE Systems

It's less than eight years since the Ministry of Defence forced the merger of shipbuilding rivals BAE Systems and Vosper Thorneycroft.

It was judged a waste of public money to retain so much capacity for the Royal Navy.

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One's view of One's economy

Queen Elizabeth II accepting a bouquet of daffodils

Here's something that might make you see the Queen a bit differently.

Ninety years old and 63 years on the throne, and you might think One is hardly likely to spring a surprise. But to mark her birthday, she gave out one of her prestigious enterprise awards to a purveyor of a battery-operated device called the Dream Rabbit.

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Offshore tax goes under water

Oil barrels Image copyright Thinkstock

Thirty-five million pounds. It's chump change to the Chancellor - some 0.005% of George Osborne's budget. And it's all he got last year from Britain's offshore oil and gas sector.

More than half a billion pounds was raked in through corporation tax on profits. But more than half a billion pounds was rebated because of deductions due to all that recent offshore investment.

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Scottish jobs: Something’s amiss

Jobcentre terminal

The latest Scottish job statistics are disappointing, though in the context of a positive jobs picture. The British economy is far from functioning normally, and that will remain the case while interest rates stay locked in the basement, but the labour market has been doing something right.

Job creation across much of the UK has been strong, counteracting the impact of falling public sector employment as the Osborne squeeze is applied.

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Private money, public controversy

Worker carrying out repairs at Edinburgh school Image copyright Getty Images

It used to be the hottest of topics in Scottish politics. Three Holyrood elections ago, in 2003, the BBC's "issues poll" found that the private financing of public services was the most unpopular policy, and fourth on a list of concerns.

(As you're probably wondering, and contrasting with 2016, "bobbies on the beat" was top, followed by nurses pay.)

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A tax inspector calls

Tax illustration Image copyright Thinkstock

It's not a good time to be a tax dodger. Some 46 national tax authorities are on your case, fired up by both the scale of tax avoidance evident in the Panama Papers, and the political momentum this gives them to make some serious progress.

That's why the unsnappily-titled Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration network (JITSIC) is gathered in Paris, under the umbrella of the (cumbersomely-monickered) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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Dodgy tax: who are the big losers?

Tax haven illustration Image copyright Thinkstock

The Panama Papers are offering up much evidence of what was long suspected. Those with accountants and without scruples can stash their wealth away - where the sun shines, but the taxman's searchlight doesn't.

Now, following the leak of the Mossack Fonseca files, the arc lights of publicity are being shone harshly on those, including Britain's prime minister, who appear to have benefited from funds being invested in offshore, low-tax jurisdictions.

Read full article Dodgy tax: who are the big losers?