Here’s The Silver Lining On This Quarter’s Mixed Bag of Bank Earnings

jamie dimon

As oftoday, most of the major banks have announced their earnings for the last quarter of 2011.

Results have been a mixed pot, to say the least—JP Morgan coming in right at expectations, Citigroup posting a big miss, Goldman Sachs beating EPS but missing revenue, Morgan Stanley reporting a better-than-expected loss and Bank of America surprising everyone with by surging above estimates.

With differing demand for the conglomerate of financial services offered by large banks, it’s hard to plaster an ultimatum of good-or-bad onto earnings numbers. For example, a majority of negative earning reports for the fourth quarter were dragged down by very low investment banking and trading volume—caused by investor fears amidst a shaky global economy.

But there’s a silver lining out of the jumble of numbers: retail loans to individuals and businesses are up for the most part, and that could be a big plus for the economic recovery. More available financing could mean more purchasing power for consumers and growth for businesses—which can also lead to more jobs.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs don’t have retail operations, but there are some bright spots in loan numbers for JP Morgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, a Wall Street Journal report pointed out yesterday. And after Bank of America’s earnings report today, it joined the club.

Here’s a run-down of the positives:

  • JP Morgan had $17 billion in loans to small businesses, up 52% from 2010. 
  • Bank of America originated $6.4 billion in small business loans, up 20% from 2011.
  • Citigroup’s retail banking loans had a 15% uptick from 2010, coming in at $133 billion. [via WSJ]
  • Wells Fargo had $167 billion in commercial and industrial loans, up 11% from 2010. [via WSJ] Although total consumer loans in fell to $424 billion from $435 billion in 2010.