Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has joined the chorus of megabank chief executives who are oddly upbeat about the second half of 2014, but a normally obscure data point — utilization rates — may put his optimism on firmer footing.

In the years since the financial crisis and during the protracted recovery, bankers have preferred to temper expectations. It's part of the reason investors are embracing second-quarter reports in the early going of earnings season — the results weren't as bad as billed.

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