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The brawl begins
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 …