RBS and the incredible shrinking rates revenues

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Once upon a time, RBS's rates trading business was a force to be reckoned with.

Not any more.

In its annual results, announced today, RBS revealed that its rates trading revenues have fallen to a five year low of £688m ($959m), down from £1.9bn at their recent peak in 2012.

This is worth noticing for two reasons. Firstly, RBS CEO Ross McEwan indicated as recently as December that RBS's rates business was important to him - although today's numbers suggest otherwise. And secondly, 2015 was a good year for most banks in rates. Deutsche Bank said it doubled its rates revenues in 2015; HSBC achieved an increase of 15%. 

In fact, where RBS's rates business once dwarfed HSBC's, as the chart below suggests, the opposite now applies. Granted, there's an exchange rate effect in here (HSBC declares in $ and RBS's revenues have been translated into $ at current rates), but the direction of travel at RBS is clear. If you're a rates trader in a British bank, HSBC looks like the place to be.

Photo credit: Bubble by Tasha Chawner is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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