Review of the year - July 2012

Opening ceremonyMike Egerton/PA Wire

As the Golden Summer of 2012 kicked off, things weren't looking all that rosy. There were two banking scandals hitting the headlines, the recession was shocking us all as growth continued to dip, crime was soaring, costs were rising and we were all fairly convinced that the Olympics had proved to be an outlandishly expensive mistake.

And that wasn't all we had to worry about...

Barclays branchDominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The banks

Barclays found itself in the centre of a storm over manipulation of the Libor rate. This financial measure didn't mean much to most of us until the crisis hit, but it is the rate that banks lend to each other, and is decisive when banks decide which rate to offer on their mortgages. It turned out that some individuals at Barclays had been manipulating it.

By the end of this month, Barclays had lost its Chairman and Chief Executive over the scandal, and heads continued to roll. By the end of the year Barclays was promising a radical culture shift to rebuild trust in the bank. It was certainly going to take something drastic.

HSBC branchAP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

Meanwhile, things were looking bleak for HSBC too. A US investigation found that lax controls at HSBC allowed Mexican drug cartels to launder billions of dollars through the bank's US operations. The head of compliance resigned in front of a US Senate subcommittee, and HSBC boss Stuart Gulliver has apologised for "the mistakes of the past". The bank set aside £445 million to cover penalties.

It's hardly surprising that two-thirds of people said their trust in banks had been eroded in the wake of the scandals.


This month it emerged that the economy had shrunk yet again. It was the third quarter in a row that the economy had contracted, meaning the UK was mired in the longest double-dip recession since quarterly records began in 1955 - and possibly since the Second World War.

finger print art installationMARTIN SCHUTT

ID Theft all-time high

And it wasn't just the big institutions suffering, there was bad news for us too. Fears were growing over ID theft, which made up 50% of all fraud for the first time. Of that, most was due to missing identity details.

This is an arms-length crime, affecting individuals rather than institutions. It means that for the first time the most prevalent sort of fraud was something we couldn't predict or stop - which was targeting us.

Insurance crisis

And anyone buying car insurance was in for a nasty surprise because the average cost of a premium rose to over £1,000 a year.

soldiers at the OlympicsJohn Stillwell/PA Wire

Olympics Farce

Even the Olympics had yet to lift our spirits. We were more concerned with by the security farce which saw 3,500 troops called up to provide security and another 1,200 on stand-by.

Then there were the much-criticised Olympic Lanes on the roads around London, which caused havoc... not to mention the failure to sell out the venues - or even give away tickets for some of the GB women's team football games. As the curtain rose, it was running the risk of becoming a £11 billion farce.


It made a report on happiness in the UK seem like a cruel joke - especially when it revealed that the happiest place in the UK was the one that was just about as far away from the rest of the UK as they could get.
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