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10 Most-Read Stories of 2011

(Image: Bloomberg News)

#10: Free Checking Isn't Cheap for Banks #10: Free Checking Isn't Cheap for Banks

For banks, free checking is many things — but it isn't free. Checking accounts cost banks between $250 to $450 a year to maintain and often fail to turn a profit.

#9: Union Bank Email Show Overdraft's Seedy Underbelly #9: Union Bank Email Show Overdraft's Seedy Underbelly

Banks have long argued that processing debit card transactions by starting with the largest dollar balances and working their way to the smallest benefited customers. An alternate explanation of what might have motivated them: "Multiple Millions $." (Image: Debbie Fogel)

#8: Community Bankers Face a Choice: Sell Out, Fold or Change #8: Community Bankers Face a Choice: Sell Out, Fold or Change

Editor at Large Barbara Rehm discusses how the decline in bank operating revenue could lead to dire consequences amid industry consolidation.

#7: Fed's Hoenig on the Failure to End Bailouts, and Why Another Crisis is Coming #7: Fed's Hoenig on the Failure to End Bailouts, and Why Another Crisis is Coming

Thomas Hoenig, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, talks about the failure to eliminate 'too big to fail' banks, his duty to be forthright and the prospect of moving to Washington. (Photo: Thomas Hoenig, Image: Bloomberg News)

#6: Cheat Sheet: How the State AGs Want to Revamp Mortgage Servicing #6: Cheat Sheet: How the State AGs Want to Revamp Mortgage Servicing

The five largest mortgage servicers receive a detailed list of requirements that, if implemented as proposed, would fundamentally change the relationship between servicers, investors and borrowers, according to a term sheet obtained by American Banker. (Image: Bloomberg News)

#5: Robo-Signing Redux: Servicers Still Fabricating Foreclosure Documents #5: Robo-Signing Redux: Servicers Still Fabricating Foreclosure Documents

Nearly a year after the companies were caught cutting corners in the robo-signing scandal, some of the largest mortgage servicers are found to still be fabricating documents that should have been signed years ago. (Photo: Lynn Szymoniak, a plaintiff's lawyer in West Palm Beach, Fla.)

#4: B of A Signs HUD Pact Over Mortgage Abuse #4: B of A Signs HUD Pact Over Mortgage Abuse

The Department of Housing and Urban Development reaches a settlement with Bank of America over allegations that the bank failed to adequately provide foreclosure alternatives, according to a draft obtained by American Banker. (Image: Bloomberg News)

#3: Cheat Sheet: Details of the Long-Awaited Volcker Rule #3: Cheat Sheet: Details of the Long-Awaited Volcker Rule

American Banker provides an exclusive look at a previously undisclosed version of the Dodd-Frank Act's Volcker Rule, which is aimed at curbing banks' proprietary trading and private equity investments. (Paul Volcker, Image: Bloomberg News)

#2: In Reputation Ranking, Some Banks Break from the Pack #2: In Reputation Ranking, Some Banks Break from the Pack

Public perceptions of bank brands leave plenty of room for improvement, but they are becoming more nuanced with a much wider distribution than in 2010.

#1: Banks Took $6B in Reinsurance Kickbacks, Investigators Say #1: Banks Took $6B in Reinsurance Kickbacks, Investigators Say

Many of the country's largest banks received $6 billion in kickbacks from mortgage insurers over the course of a decade, according to a previously undisclosed investigation. (Photo: HUD's acting inspector general, Michael Stephens)

The year just ending was a rough one for banks. From new regulatory burdens, to legal woes to the high cost of doing business, the bumps along the way are graphically illustrated in American Banker's most popular stories of 2011. Following are the top 10, in ascending order as measured by page views through midday on December 27.

Will Tech Advances Hurt the Underbanked?
It's long been assumed that technology will help the financially underserved access the banking services they need. Christine Duhaime, founder of the Digital Financial Institute, a fintech think-tank, says this assumption is wrong.
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