JPMorgan Chase kicks off bank earnings

Outside the JP Morgan Chase building in New York City

Jeremy Hobson: Well get a look at the banking sector this morning as corporate earnings season continues. JPMorgan Chase will tell us how it did last quarter. The quality of loans on the balance sheets of the big banks has been improving lately, and that's a bright spot for the financial industry. But some consumers and corporations have been holding on to their money -- which is not so great for the banks.

Here's our senior business correspondent Bob Moon.


Bob Moon: We aren't borrowing enough, and neither are businesses, which is weighing on bank profits. And for now, addressing that problem is largely out of their hands. So says Jeffrey Harte, a banking analyst at Sander O'Neill and Partners.

Jeffrey Harte: When it comes to loans, it's not so much what the banks can do, as what the economy can do. You know, if the economy keeps getting stronger and people keep developing higher levels of confidence, we should see loan growth start to pick up again.

There's been some finger-pointing at financial institutions for not lending enough. But Harte says it's not just consumers and businesses who've changed their habits -- banks are leery of drumming up the wrong kind of business.

Harte: Making underwriting standards too easy so you're essentially giving people money that probably don't deserve to have the money -- and that's where we kind of got in trouble with the last crisis. So, to some extent, banks are kind of a victim of economic circumstance.

Now there's a novel thought: the banks as victims. Harte says higher energy prices and global turmoil have put the economy in a soft spot right now. But he expects that picture -- along with bank profits -- to improve.

I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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