For the last few months, many difficulties have beset European banks, with the latest hardship being write-downs announced by several of these firms. Despite these problems, financial institutions are still performing relatively well, even in the face of the negative headlines.

"It's like people think these big, dirty banks have gone and lost all of our pensions," a European analyst said, "when the reality is obviously the opposite, since the banks have shown massive creativity in generating solutions. But for investors, they seem to feel the banks are full of greedy brokers and greedy borrowers, and the press, well, I've recently read that asset securitization is now a toxic swamp,' and the write-down of assets a feeding frenzy.'"

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