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Dumbest of This Week's 5 Dumbest: New York Times Pay-Wall Woes

Over the past week, JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC) announced that they plan to resume or increase dividends. Others, such as Bank of America (BAC) and Capital One Financial (COF), weren't so lucky. They remain in rehab until they are strong enough to handle the real world.

As bankers will tell you, the dividend has turned into a brutal mistress. It is something that investors, especially institutional investors, have come to expect as a quid pro quo for owning shares that offer growth in the less-than-nothing range.

In many ways, dividends have turned into a shareholder protection scheme. A few notes stuffed in an envelope every quarter for investors to make sure, you know, nothing bad happens to a bank's stock.

Finally, Research In Motion's (RIMM) late introduction of its PlayBook tablet was deemed the least dumbest thing of the week, garnering only 7.5% of the vote.

Delays have plagued RIM's effort to catch up with Apple (AAPL), Motorola (MMI) and Samsung in the tablet race.

The RIM PlayBook will be the fourth sizable player in the market, and its QNX operating system represents a much smaller sales opportunity for application developers targeting Apple, Google's (GOOG) Android and even Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone 7 software.

--Written by Ross Tucker in New York.

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