One concern among investors is that the strong trading activity seen by banks in the first quarter was a one-time event - the first quarter saw a surge in corporate bond issuance as the credit markets started thawing from their frozen fourth quarter. Even JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon acknowledged Thursday that trading activity is unlikely to remain so robust.
The question is whether banks like Citigroup can find other ways to offset loan losses, which nearly all economists and bankers agree will keep rising throughout the year as the unemployment rate ticks higher. The global recession is causing defaults in mortgages, credit cards and commercial real estate loans - and Citigroup is heavily exposed to all of these.
In early March, Citigroup stock hit an all-time low of 97 cents per share. It has since quadrupled, but remains down 40 percent for 2009. And at $4.01 a share Thursday, Citigroup stock was down 93 percent from its late 2006 peak.
Since late 2007, Citigroup has gotten a new CEO, a new chairman, and a new structure that splits its traditional retail and investment banking business from its consumer finance units, asset management, and risky mortgage-related assets. It's also been downsizing by selling off businesses and laying off a fifth of its employees. And it's gotten $45 billion in government funding and a federal backstop on roughly $300 billion in assets.