Credit card fees: The next hit to bank earnings

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The federal government has rescued a number of large banks and given them TARP money to help with losses and write-offs. Now Congress and the Administration are taking actions that will push down bank earnings again.

According toThe Wall Street Journal, the government's move to cut card fees and restrict increases in interest rates "is yet another headache for the credit-card industry, already battered by rising delinquencies and defaults because of the recession."

The problem for the banks is yet another example of how the law of unintended consequences undermines the overall plan to save the economy. GM (GM) and Chrysler get federal aid to restructure. In turn, they cut hundreds of dealers and thousands of jobs, increasing unemployment.

In the case of credit card fees, financial firm earnings results will be hurt at big banks including Bank of America (BAC) and Citigroup (C), which will partially compromise the Treasury and Fed efforts to shore up their balance sheets.

If the federal government continues to undermine its own recovery programs, the length of the recession may be extended.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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