The credit crunch marches on. This week featured banks raising capital to shore up their balance sheets, while the IMF and the Fed warned of economic storm clouds ahead. Although the market seems to have picked up lately, no one knows for sure if the worst of the credit crunch is behind us as we await this month's crucial earnings releases. Here are some of this week's banking crisis web gems.

  • Citigroup (NYSE: C) is reportedly close to a deal to unload $12 billion in debt associated with leveraged buyouts to a group of private equity firms -- Apollo Management, TPG, and Blackstone Group. This will help Citigroup with a much-needed shoring up of its balance sheet. But doesn't it seem like somebody must be making a mistake ... with $12 billion? Perhaps the private equity firms just cherry-picked the juiciest $12 billion in questionable debt.
  • Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM), a poster bank for subprime overindulgence, is getting a $7 billion cash infusion from a group of private investors. The company had been in talks to get cash from JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), but that apparently fell through. Here's the thing that ticks me off. I wanted to give WaMu $7 billion, but I've just been too distracted coaching Little League.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Tuesday that the global credit crisis remains a threat to economic growth. It also said that the summer should bring warmer weather.
  • Ex-Fed Chief Alan Greenspan defended his legacy. Ex-Fed Chief Paul Volcker warned that inflation is still a risk. Ex-UBS (NYSE: UBS) Chairman Luqman Arnold recommended a breakup of the bank. Caught up in the spirit, I told my ex-wife that she spends money like a drunken sailor.
  • The Fed is exploring ways of raising money to arm itself for further potential actions, including measures to raise capital by issuing its own debt. Foreign regulators are reportedly also taking steps to arm themselves in the event of a widening crisis. How's that for a vote of confidence?

Next week's widely anticipated earnings releases include US Bancorp (NYSE: USB), JPMorgan, Citigroup, Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), and Wachovia (NYSE: WB). After these earning announcements, we will likely have a much better idea of whether we are through the worst of the credit crisis or in for a more severe and painful economic crisis. Next week is crucial. Stay tuned.

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