Banks: The Final Countdown?

Includes: BAC, C, JPM
by: Ron Rowland

Something strange is happening - or about to happen. Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C), and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) all moved up their quarterly reports to this week. None have offered any coherent explanation for doing so. What are they trying to get ahead of?

Meanwhile, yesterday BAC received a $138 billion federal bailout to cover both its own losses and those of newly acquired Merrill Lynch. Citigroup announced a new plan to dismember itself into Good Citi and Bad Citi. Bloomberg also reported that the Obama team is considering even more dramatic measures to resolve the banking crisis. The new president himself has spoken about the need to have “ammunition” on his first days in office. It appears he will get it, with Congress likely to approve the $350 billion second tranche of TARP money.

It sure looks like something big will happen either this weekend or next week. What it will be is anyone’s guess. My guess is it will somehow involve the government taking on the worthless mortgage securities and other derivatives that are weighing down the banks. This may save the banking system from total meltdown, but it won’t keep the economy out of recession.

Whatever the plan is, we’ll find out soon. Stay tuned.