Big banks: Chop chop

UK Only Article: 
standard article

Issue: 

The brawl begins

Fly Title: 

Big banks

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20160130_FND001_0.jpg

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Why haven’t banking giants got a lot smaller?

BOSSES at big banks would once have cringed at releasing the kind of results they have been serving up to investors in recent days. This week, for instance, Deutsche Bank posted a loss of €6.8 billion ($7.4 billion) for 2015. In the third quarter of last year the average return on equity at the biggest banks, those with more than $1 trillion in assets, was a wan 7.9%—far below the returns of 15-20% they were earning before the financial crisis. Exclude Chinese banks from the list, and the figure drops to a miserable 5.7%. Returns have been languishing at that level for several years.
In response, the banks’ top brass are following a similar template: retreats from certain countries or business lines, along with a stiff dose of job cuts. Barclays, which earlier this month said it would eliminate 1,000 jobs at its investment bank …

American banks: Not yet out of the woods

UK Only Article: 
standard article

Issue: 

Who’s afraid of cheap oil?

Fly Title: 

American banks

Location: 

NEW YORK

Rubric: 

The good times are ending before they had really begun

FOR a spell last year American banks seemed poised to reattain the sort of double-digit returns that have largely eluded them since the financial crisis. A robust market for takeovers and public offerings was producing a flurry of fees. Credit quality, which had collapsed in the crisis, was “pristine”, according to Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank by assets—something that was allowing banks to reduce the provisions they had made to cover soured loans. The rash of swingeing fines that had been disfiguring profits had largely dissipated (although Goldman Sachs recently agreed to pay $5 billion to settle charges that it knowingly peddled dodgy mortgage-backed securities). And then there was the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates in December for the first time in nearly a …