NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Baseball fans remember Mario Mendoza for the "Mendoza line," defined years ago by baseball Hall of Famer George Brett as a point of mediocrity. The slick-fielding shortstop had a decade-long career while hitting about .200. Thus, in baseball, .200 is the Mendoza line.
For bankers, book value is the Mendoza line. A bank is supposed to be worth at least its book value, and preferably a big premium to it.
Trouble is, most of the biggest banks haven't been hitting this well for years.
- The "London Whale" won't be charged, but the cover-up is always worse than the crime, and two former lower-level employees might be charged with criminal wrongdoing in covering it up. Still to be settled is whether the bank will have to formally admit wrongdoing.
- The bank is being charged in a civil case with violating securities laws in handling subprime mortgages ahead of the 2008 crash.
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) charged the bank with manipulating the market for electricity as many as eight times and handed its energy trading unit $410 million in fines.
- The bank faces charges, along with Goldman Sachs (GS), of manipulating aluminum prices, warehousing supplies to keep prices high. This is the case that was made part of a Daily Show sketch a few weeks ago.
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