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Who’s afraid of cheap oil?
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 …