Investing: Taking The Bait

Banks are swallowing up one another left and right. How can you turn a profit?

It's a buying frenzy. A desire to boost earnings with new retail customers, combined with a general pickup in mergers and acquisitions, has rekindled a decades-old trend of bank consolidation. The banking industry has announced $114 billion worth of M&A's so far this year, including the $58 billion blockbuster that brought together

Bank One and J.P. Morgan Chase. Now the pairings are trickling down the asset chain. In late August Citigroup said it was buying its way into retail banking in Texas by acquiring privately held First American Bank. Two days later, Canada's Toronto-Dominion Bank announced it would spend $3.8 billion...