Banks Earnings About More Than Just Banks

Most of the major banks in the U.S. reported second quarter earnings results last week. We follow these results closely, not only because we are large holders of bonds issued by such institutions, but because the results can help inform our view of the U.S. economy. On the banking front, things continue to improve, albeit gradually. Most banks reported flat revenue growth versus the second quarter of last year and slight to moderate increases in net income. Expense controls and improving credit quality drove the gains on the bottom-line, while increases in loan growth helped to offset weak trading results and drove the top line. Importantly, the U.S. consumer appears to be in good shape as well, as loan losses and delinquencies remain near record lows. Unfortunately, we are still seeing commercial loan growth outpace consumer loan growth. As it relates to bondholders, bank credit quality is very solid, with balance sheets strong and capital ratios solid. All in all, the quarter came in as expected, and does nothing to change our view that the U.S. economy is growing, though not very quickly.