Tax cuts, deregulation and a buoyant economy were always expected to drive profits higher at most American banks in the latest quarter.
But would banks, taking their cue from rising economic optimism and a friendlier White House, significantly increase their lending to businesses and households? On Friday, earnings reports from four of the United States’ biggest banks showed scant evidence of such a revival.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and PNC all reported another quarter of healthy profits, most of which will end up in shareholders’ pockets. Wells Fargo & Co., operating under regulatory constraints after a series of scandals, reported a decline in profit.
Overall, lending at the four banks grew only 2.1 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to an analysis by The New York Times. That represents a slowdown from the 3 percent rise in the first quarter, and it is well below the 4.6 percent increase in loans that the four banks achieved in all of 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration.
A pickup in lending might yet occur. Looser regulations and the robust economy can take time to translate into higher lending. Tax cuts have increased cash flows at companies, perhaps reducing their near-term demand for loans. Higher interest rates also may be deterring borrowers. And banks may be holding back because they do not want to extend loans that have a higher chance of defaulting.
Even so, the banks have plenty of spare cash they could use right now to fuel higher lending if they wanted to. Instead, they have opted to make large payments to shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks.
Airlines hike fares and cut flights as fuel prices rise
ATLANTA >> High fuel costs are translating into higher airfares for Delta Air Lines and other U.S. carriers.
Atlanta-based Delta announced Thursday it will trim its flight schedule for this fall as it grapples with the rising price of oil. The airline plans to focus on underperforming routes when making its cuts.
Higher fares also are likely.
“With higher fuel prices, you’re going to expect to see ticket prices go up as well,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. He said ticket prices are up 4 percent year over year.
Oil prices have been increasing since early 2017, and the price of jet fuel is about 55 percent higher than it was a year ago, according to the International Air Transport Association.