It's still early innings for banks making use of deferred tax assets, and for some institutions it's an open question as to whether these tax benefits will ever be fully realized.

DTAs reflect the value of prior losses and can be used to reduce future tax bills. But these assets had been written down by more than $5 billion as of the second quarter. That's substantially less than the $6 billion in writedowns seen a year earlier, but still far above the roughly $200 million in the second quarter of 2008, when large numbers of banks began to rack up losses that put their viability in doubt.

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