Are Banks Actually Evil, or Does It Just Seem That Way?

By Markets Fool.com

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It has been more than six years since the nation's biggest financial institutions crashed the global economy and had to be bailed out by U.S. taxpayers. However, this shouldn't be interpreted to mean Wall Street financiers are now on the straight and narrow.

Last week, the country's four largest banks by assets reported earnings for the final three months of 2014. Aside from Wells Fargo, it was an altogether dismal affair.

In addition to the widely publicized impact of lower trading revenue, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup all suffered from larger than expected legal expenses that weighed on their bottom lines.

The expenses weren't related to the behaviors that caused the financial crisis, which, it's worth pointing out, cost the banks tens of billions of dollars in legal fees and expenses over the last few years. They stemmed instead from new allegations of malfeasance, such as rigging foreign-exchange markets.

With this in mind, you'd be excused for wondering if the banks learned anything from the reputational damage they suffered during and after the crisis. And you'd also be excused for wondering, as I do in the presentation below, whether our biggest banks are actually evil, or if it just seems that way.

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The article Are Banks Actually Evil, or Does It Just Seem That Way? originally appeared on Fool.com.

John Maxfield has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Citigroup Inc, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.