Mortgage woes have been the overriding concern of investors in the country's largest banks in recent months. Not any more. In the wake of Standard & Poor's downgrade of U.S. government debt on Friday, fears about capital markets exposure are now taking precedence over mortgages and cancelling out the perceived safety that investors normally ascribe to the largest banks.
The winners as of early Monday afternoon -- or more aptly, the smallest losers -- were Wells Fargo & Co and U.S. Bancorp. Each is a massive retail banking institution with relatively small positions in the capital markets, including activities such as proprietary trading and financing via short-term debt markets.
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