The first lesson any successful business learns is that it's not about turnover, it's about profit margin. No matter how great the sales figure, if you're losing money you've got it wrong. The chart engraved in our brains from microeconomics 101 on which the marginal cost curve meets the marginal revenue curve and magically reveals the point of maximum profit has served many successful businesses well. Except, of course, the really big ones.
When you're very big, it's not about profit margin, it's about turnover. Poor profits can be disguised by a spiralling sequence of mergers and acquisitions, and of course the bigger you get, the more that greedy executives can cream off in salary and bonus; "Yes, I'm paid £5m a year, but that's only a tiny fraction of a percent of our turnover, you know .."
Amazon don't make profit because they're acquiring market share instead, using coercive means to lock-in consumers to their products. As do Apple. The wise avoid them, adopting open platform gadgets instead. Coercion by technical block is not a sustainable business model, as Microsoft found. But banks aren't consumer technology retailers - the global financial market is free and open, and banks only establish market share if they're fundamentally sound, i.e. profitable.
James Crosby, like Fred Goodwin, drove a bank into the ground because he was greedy. He admitted incompetence to a Commons committee, but it was far more than that. Like many others, I can't understand why Crosby isn't now in prison, rather than enjoying a pension of £570,000 a year, a reward of such obscenity that it defies rational understanding.