CIT Bank is operating under a cease-and-desist order, it's still small, and its parent company is paying a rate (13%) on billions in secured debt that many borrowers would laugh at.

Despite all these facts, a key nod from regulators would clear a path for CIT Group Inc. to become a strong competitor to midsize commercial banking companies. CIT's first-quarter results revealed a scrubbed balance sheet and a strong liquidity position. Though its prospects are brightening, however, the company is nearly as dependent on government support as before it entered bankruptcy in November.

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