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Does Marcus Agius have a bruised Rothschild ego?

Barclays chairman Marcus Agius needs no introduction to the Maltese, least of all to those who have read the book Daughter of an Empire, of which he was obviously a promoter. His ancestors' old trading name E.T.C. Agius has become a part of our heritage, as it appears prominently in photographs showing the triumphal entry of Prince Edward into our Grand Harbour in 1876.

Agius has stormed the heights of achievement of banking in London, largely on his own merits, but one must admit, being married happily and honorably to a Rothschild was no hindrance to his dramatic success. His marriage prevented him from joining the Rothschild firm under the family's age-long tradition governing Rothschild spouses. It was indeed strange that the scion of a militantly Maltese Catholic family, albeit with links to the Cohen family of Grandmaster Pinto fame, should marry into the of the Rothschilds, kings of international Zionism, who may be regarded justly as the direct founders of the state of Israel.

Their greatness has had its detractors. There have been those who would like to state that Rothschild secretly rules the world. There can be no greater nonsense, despite the fact that Rothschild finance is still significant on the world scale, but by no means as before.

It is impossible for a Barclay's shareholder, innocent of history, to understand the present fantastic gyrations in the share price of that bank without knowing something of the Rothschild banking ego. The Rothschilds have been the greatest honourable, completely unsullied practitioners of the world's stock exchanges. This explains why they have survived. They started 250 years ago as traders in numismatic coins and as Court Jews of the Prince of Frankfurt. They are obviously, like many others, masters at shorting the stock market: selling shares at a high price to buy them later a lower price.

A low share price is bound to rocket when it no longer reflects fundamentals adequately. It however happens that stock markets have the habit of overshooting on the upturn, and underperforming on the downturn. Earnings in this area are about 10 times the national average, and ups and downs are endemic.

Over the past 52 weeks, Barclays' share price has fallen during this period from 747.5 to 303 while its yield and P/E ratio are excellent at 10 per cent and 6.2 per cent respectively.

This is preposterous, and it is scaring away investors from the stock market. Nothing has happened in the real side of the British economy which justifies the tsunami we are now seeing in UK banks. Nothing justifies the banding about of nefarious calumnies. Shorting must have played its part in the recent precipitous fall in Barclays shares which have enabled speculators to pocket millions, and to scare thousands of investors.

It would be wrong for shorting to be regulated out of existence. Faith among bankers must be restored. Agius is currently the leading banker grandeè, and his ego as displayed in his banking victories will certainly not accept to be bruised.

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