The latest quarterly results from U.S. Bancorp and PNC Financial Services Group illustrate the same hard truths: earnings are going to be lackluster until rates go up, and regional banks and their investors will have to keep toughing it out.

Why? Margins are continuing to erode, offsetting low yields with volume is proving tougher than expected, fee businesses are not enough of a supplement, and most cost-cutting efforts have been exhausted.

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