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Jeremy Hobson: Citigroup reported this morning a $3.8 billion quarterly profit thanks to fewer losses from bad loans and less money being set aside to handle losses. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo, which has a bigger focus on consumer banking reported a $4 billion profit. So what does all that mean for you and me?
Let’s get that information now from our regular Monday guest, Julia Coronado, chief economist with the investment bank BNP Paribas. She is with us live from New York. Good morning.
Julia Coronado: Good morning.
Hobson: So Julia, bank earnings up — we’ve got another couple this morning — what does that mean for ordinary people who want to get a loan on a mortgage or for a small business?
Coronado: Well if you look through the details, the results are just OK. Banks are actually having a tougher time making money and growing revenue. So unfortunately, I think that what it means is credit standards are probably going to stay pretty tight for a while — it doesn’t look like it’s going to ease up anytime soon.
Hobson: But when people hear about $3, $4 billion profits, and they know that these banks are sitting on a lot of cash; they’ve got access to cheap money from the Fed, they’re going to say, “Why aren’t they lending?”
Coronado: So we have a bit of a chicken and egg situation. After the financial crisis, we want to move to a world with smaller banks, with more tightly-regulated banks. So that means banks have to set aside more of their earnings to shore up their capital position so that they’re safer.
And what that means is that there’s going to be less of that money available for lending. And of course banks know they’re under tighter scrutiny about the kinds of loans that they make. So in the process of moving to a world of tighter regulation — that by definition means less free money around.
Hobson: Julia Coronado, chief economist with the investment bank BNP Paribas, thanks as always.
Coronado: It’s a pleasure.
Julia Coronado is chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas’ global market economics team. After receiving a PhD in Economics from the University of Texas, Julia worked as an economist for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, as director of retirement research at the think tank Watson Wyatt Worldwide, and as a senior U.S. economist at Barclays Capital. Currently, she also has a seat on the board of directors of the Pension Research Council at the Wharton School.