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Stephen Hester cannot see the green shoots of recovery

The chief executive of government controlled Royal Bank of Scotland, Stephen Hester, has today shot down hopes of a quick turnaround in the UK recovery. Amid suggestions that he did not believe the green shoots of recovery have appeared yet he was unable to give a definitive forecast as to when the Royal Bank of Scotland will return to profitability, instead choosing to suggest that 2009 2010 will be "very difficult".

After a brief period of relative confidence in the UK economy we have seen a number of reports and comments over the last few days which appear designed to take the wind out of any potential recovery. While the proof is in the pudding, at this moment in time it looks as though the headlines suggesting the UK economy may bounce appear wide of the mark. In truth the real situation is probably somewhere between the hopeful headlines and Stephen Hester's opinion that the next two years will be very difficult.

Turning back to the Royal Bank of Scotland itself, the company announced losses of £4.9 billion for the first three months of 2009 with a suggestion that full-year write-offs could be in the region of £11 billion. Maybe the early green shoots have died already?

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