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Big Banks and the Mendoza Line

My own anger, for me, was the story. I don't think it's unusual. I think it's what many, many people think.

The degree to which these banks trade at or above their book value, then, is not just an indication of the value of their assets. It's an indication of how close we are to forgiving them for what happened in the last decade, how close to normal we are willing to be in our relation to the bulk of our banking system.


A price to book value of 1, then, is sort of the banking "Mendoza Line," the .200 average that kept flashy-fielding baseball infielder Mario Mendoza in the major leagues during the 1970s. It's not great, it's barely hanging in, but it's acceptable.

So how are the banks doing? As I noted previously, Wells Fargo is doing great. JPMorgan Chase touched the line recently but started Friday at 0.95. Citigroup and Bank of America need to be sent back to the minors.

The rot at the heart of the banking system is still there, and if we want a fully functioning economy it's time we addressed it. JPM Price / Book Value ChartJPM Price / Book Value data by YCharts

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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