If you've accumulated bank stocks last year, you would have watched, with a sinking heart, the freefall of this sector's share prices from its once lofty perch. The result -- a decimated and tattered portfolio, testament to the crisis of confidence that has swept through the investment community.
Take Citigroup. The third-largest U.S. bank’s share price fell to an 18-year low of $2 last week. At its height in 2007, one share cost $55. Now, shareholders have to grapple with the prospect that their stock might be diluted.
Talk of possibly nationalizing some big U.S. banks has kept equity markets on edge in recent weeks, until Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke on Tuesday to deflect those worries. But with the U.S. government reportedly in discussions with Citi that could lead to Washington taking up to a 40 percent stake in the bank, what are investors to make of these developments?