Gains from sales of securities and lower loan loss previsions helped bring higher profits to large Fifth District commercial banks in 1986. At the same time, small- and medium-sized bank profits fell slightly in the District from the previous year. As in the past few years, Fifth District banks outperformed banks in the rest of the United States. For the benefit of those readers curious about the problems connected with measuring bank performance, the authors discuss the most common bank profitability measures and the consequences of relying on accounting rather than market data.
Amanda L. Kramer