U.S. Bancorp may always be more George Bailey than Gordon Gekko, but its executives can still recognize an opportunity to exploit weakness on Wall Street when they see it.

With the financial crisis displacing or disabling many of the league-table regulars in capital markets businesses such as high-grade debt underwriting, U.S. Bancorp has been building a track record of arranging deals for large corporate issuers. In 2009 it helped sell $1.3 billion of bonds for clients including AutoZone Inc. and Lincoln National Corp., serving as joint book-runner alongside the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and UBS AG.

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