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Editors' Picks: The Best of American Banker 2012

A compilation of the year's favorite stories, as selected by the people who assigned and edited them. Picks exclude items that appear among Top 10 Stories of 2012, as measured by audience size.

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Anatomy of a Bank Deal: Citizens Republic CEO on Why She Sold Anatomy of a Bank Deal: Citizens Republic CEO on Why She Sold

Cathleen Nash lays out with unusual candor the strategic thinking behind Citizens Republic's decision to sell to FirstMerit-and why she expects many more banks to face the same tough choice.

Consumer Bureau Threatens Banks' Credit Card Protection Profits Consumer Bureau Threatens Banks' Credit Card Protection Profits This overview of the controversial payment protection plans sold by credit card issuers warns that regulators may soon crack down on the banks offering them-a few months before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau does just that.

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Lawyers Enlist Mortgage Brokers to Find Plaintiffs, Sue Banks Lawyers Enlist Mortgage Brokers to Find Plaintiffs, Sue Banks A peek into the seedy world of debt-modification schemes that profiles how an L.A. law firm offers to pay mortgage brokers "referral" fees for convincing homeowners to themselves make $5,000 payments in lawsuits against banks.

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OCC Flip-Flopped on Ethics Matter, Reassigned Husband of B of A Exec OCC Flip-Flopped on Ethics Matter, Reassigned Husband of B of A Exec

An inside account of how officials within the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency circumvented strict government ethics. It tells how they assigned David Wilson to a senior position overseeing supervision policy for all national banks, despite the fact that his wife held a senior position at Bank of America (BAC).

Lifetime Achievement: Barney Frank Lifetime Achievement: Barney Frank

A look at the complex legacy of one of the banking policy world's most polarizing-and important-figures that steers clear of the usual partisanship.

A Michigan Community Bank's Tale of Survival A Michigan Community Bank's Tale of Survival In which a small bank delivers a how-to guide for navigating a difficult environment and insurmountable survival odds.

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Friends Again? A Bank's Second Attempt at Social Media Friends Again? A Bank's Second Attempt at Social Media A tale of social media's pitfalls, this story tells how Country Club Bank launched a Facebook (FB) page, pulled it down and then on its second go-around succeeded, thanks to better planning and messaging tools.

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How to Handle Banking's Social Media Challenge How to Handle Banking's Social Media Challenge A case study about all that can go wrong for bankers with social media, even when they do everything by the book.

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Campaign Contributions Stir Unease on Emigrant Bank Bill Campaign Contributions Stir Unease on Emigrant Bank Bill

A profile of how House lawmakers who received significant campaign donations from Emigrant Bank tried to pass a bill that would help it and it alone.

Bernanke Charts New Mission for the Fed: Financial Stability Bernanke Charts New Mission for the Fed: Financial Stability

A look at how Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke quietly added financial stability as a third central bank priority, even as Congress continued to debate its previous dual mandate of keeping prices stable and unemployment low.

Banker-Examiner Relationship, Once Testy, Thaws Banker-Examiner Relationship, Once Testy, Thaws Interviews with two dozen bankers, regulators and other experts reveals how and why bank-examiner hostility is on the wane.

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Deal-Hungry Banks Are Targeting Niche Pickups Deal-Hungry Banks Are Targeting Niche Pickups A look at how, with traditional bank M&A largely dormant, well-capitalized banks are turning to acquiring new lines of business to boost revenues.

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The Ketchup Bottle Theory of M&A: Slow Is Good The Ketchup Bottle Theory of M&A: Slow Is Good A look at measured, go-slow consolidation offers many benefits-to bankers if not to dealmakers.

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Are Giant Banks Indispensable? No, Says Big Business Are Giant Banks Indispensable? No, Says Big Business

Are megabanks indispensable? No. But they are useful. That's the view espoused in this story by executives at some of the megabanks' biggest customers.

Global Risk Management Initiative Threatened by Arcane Dispute Global Risk Management Initiative Threatened by Arcane Dispute A dry-as-dirt technical dispute over codes used to identify market participants roils a global bid to standardize financial data. This story offers the sort of insider's look that readers won't get anywhere else.

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Walmart's Bluebird Card Makes It a Tougher Competitor to Banks Walmart's Bluebird Card Makes It a Tougher Competitor to Banks

A look at how Walmart (WMT) is becoming a more formidable bank competitor with the addition of American Express's (AXP) Bluebird checking account alternative.

The Shrinking Bank Branch The Shrinking Bank Branch A look at how banks are turning self-service machines into tellers and teller stations into ATMs.

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The Apple Payment System You Never Saw Coming The Apple Payment System You Never Saw Coming

Year after year, Apple (APPL) fans have expected it to make a splash with an iPhone-based mobile payment system. Despite Apple's numerous let-downs, this story shows how a lot has been going on under the surface at the tech giant.

Somali-Americans' Remittance Demands Put Banks in Bind Somali-Americans' Remittance Demands Put Banks in Bind

Somali nationals threaten to close accounts at U.S. Bancorp (USB) and Wells Fargo (WFC) unless they are allowed to wire money to suffering family members back home. This story looks at banks' claims that federal rules make it hard for them to provide such services.

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Banks to Face Tough Staffing Choices When Refi Boom Ends Banks to Face Tough Staffing Choices When Refi Boom Ends A look at what will happen to the thousands of employees hired to handle a crush of work from mortgage refinancing when the refi market cools.

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SWIFT Reimagines Banks' Role in Commerce for a Data-Driven Future SWIFT Reimagines Banks' Role in Commerce for a Data-Driven Future How can banks be something more than utilities in a world where regulation and technology are making their old business models untenable? In this piece, SWIFT's Digital Asset Grid offers one possible answer.

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For Executive Compensation Advice, JPMorgan Goes to the Top For Executive Compensation Advice, JPMorgan Goes to the Top

A concise glimpse at the bank executive pay game. The story lays out how JPMorgan Chase's (JPM) Compensation Committee, made up of three men used to receiving outsized paychecks, decided against docking CEO Jamie Dimon's for the multi-billion dollar "London Whale" loss.

Banks Approaching $10B in Assets Face Big DecisionsBankers Lose Appetite for Holding 15-Year Mortgages Banks Approaching $10B in Assets Face Big Decisions

Bankers Lose Appetite for Holding 15-Year Mortgages
For community banks the name of the game is to find ways to grow, yet manage the risk. This pair of stories offers a sense of how bankers think through such strategic decisions.

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A compilation of the year's favorite stories, as selected by the people who assigned and edited them. Picks exclude items that appear among Top 10 Stories of 2012, as measured by audience size.

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