Crisis Won't End Until Balance Sheets Get Real

Investors are feeling better about financial companies' balance sheets than they were a few months ago. That's not to say they have a lot of confidence in them.

Compare, for example, the stock-market value of Regions Financial Corp. with the bank's reported net worth. At $3.97, the Birmingham, Alabama-based company's stock is up 69 percent since its February low, giving Regions a $4.5 billion market capitalization. That's still only a third of the $13.5 billion book value it showed as of March 31. In the market's view, the bank's asset values remain grossly overstated.