Jes Staley predicted the strongest year for economic growth since the aftermath of the second world war, at 6.5% this year, as “tremendous pent-up demand” built up during the pandemic is released.
“So we see – just like you’re starting to see in the US as well – quite a robust economic recovery in 2021,” Staley said. “We think that will carry through into 2022.”
He made the upbeat assessment of the outlook for the economy as Barclays published its first-quarter results, which showed profits at the bank more than doubled over the period to £2.4bn.
While the bank recorded a drop in consumer spending at the start of the year, Staley said the trend was already reversing, helped by the “extraordinary success” of the UK’s vaccination programme.
He said spending was already up 70% during the first two weeks of April, compared with a year earlier.
The upbeat forecast meant the lender was able to put aside a smaller sum to cover customer defaults linked to the pandemic. It logged a £55m charge to cover bad debts, a fraction of the £2.1bn set aside during the same period last year.