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Banks earnings expected to reflect an economy that is reopening

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A sign is posted on the exterior of a Chase bank office on January 14, 2020 in San Francisco, California.

With unemployment still high, however, it’s hard for some households to make their monthly payments on credit cards, auto and home loans, said Greg McBride at Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Spring corporate earnings season kicks off this week with a lot of reports from big banks, starting Wednesday with JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs. Last year, there was a lot of worry about bank earnings as the economy went into a tailspin from the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, for the start of 2021, things are looking at lot rosier.

For starters, financial markets are riding high, and Karen Petrou at Federal Financial Analytics said that’s where banks make a lot of their money. Stocks have soared, companies are going public, “tech firms are launching new offerings, there’s a lot of fee income in that,” Petrou said. “And even the most risky borrowers are being supported in the corporate sector by ultra-low interest rates.

A robust, reopening economy will help banks earn more going forward, said Greg McBride at, though he said with unemployment still high, it’s hard for some households to make their monthly payments on credit cards, auto and home loans.

“It’s going to take a while longer for households that suffered income disruptions to get to their new normal, before we really get a sense of the extent of consumer defaults, delinquencies, bankruptcies and foreclosures,” McBride said.

He said government relief checks have helped mitigate consumers’ debt troubles in the pandemic.

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