Barclays has been more openly uneasy about the housing market than any other bank.
Before home-buyers turned cautious last year, it announced that Woolwich, its mortgage lender, had pulled out of buy-to-let loans altogether.
At the same time, Barclaycard went flat out for headlong growth. Last year its marketing department was pumping out reckless letters inviting cardholders to take unsecured loans of £25,000, to treat themselves to a boy's toy car, the holiday of a lifetime, or whatever.
Barclays changed that sales pitch, when David Jones of Montague Securities in Stratford alerted us and we alerted them. By then damage had been done, to Barclaycard as well, no doubt, to some of its over-enthusiastic customers. Some innocents still imagine that if a respectable bank urges you to borrow a heap of money it has made a professional assessment that you can afford it.
So yesterday it turned out that bad debts had contributed to a 19 per cent drop in Barclaycard's profits.
Meantime, Woolwich sacrificed some of its share of the market for home loans in a year when most mortgage lenders came through the housing market's pause for breath with barely a hint of trouble. John Varley, Barclays' chief executive, is now urging Woolwich to be a bit bolder. That's banking for you.
Happily, low interest rates ensured a welcome dearth of dud loans to small and medium-sized businesses so that Barclays came through 2005 in good order.
Bob Diamond did much more than that. The investment operations he runs bumped up their profits by 26 per cent - one of them, Barclays Global Investors, turned in a 61 per cent gain. Together they accounted for 38 per cent of Barclays' entire total.
That is good going, the more so when you remember that NatWest never really recovered from its ill-judged foray into investment banking and how Barclays made an unholy hash of its previous effort, called BZW, before Mr Diamond moved in.
This achievement could well entitle Mr Diamond to his maximum potential bonus for 2005 - the striking sum of £15 million, a third of it in shares. It gets him off to a good start, too, for a long-term incentive covering the three years to 2007. That could be anything up to another £14.8 million.
One unkind thought yesterday was that Mr Diamond may have struck a special deal after Mr Varley was preferred over him to become chief executive in 2003. Mr Diamond didn't sulk or stomp off home to America.
Oh no, says Barclays, no golden handcuffs here. The contracts were all in place beforehand.
A good word for the Pru. First it scores a 20 per cent return with its with-profit fund last year and talks about averaging eight per cent in future. Then says with-profits can be a good investment.
That is arch-heresy. Some damn with-profits as opaque. But some people will happily trade transparency for eight per cent and 20 per cent in a good year. The rich ones invest in hedge funds.