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The new normal in Canadian banking

Buried in Royal Bank of Canada's quarterly results last month was a sense of the new normal at Canadian banks.

Royal Bank, proud owner of a retail profit machine, routinely set high performance standards, then beat those benchmarks.

Canada's largest bank targeted a 20 per cent return on equity - lofty by any measure - and far exceeded that goal by hitting a 24.6 per cent REO in 2007. Profit was to rise by between 7 and 10 per cent - again, stunning growth for a mature business. Royal Bank's earnings rose 17 per cent in 2007, and CEO Gord Nixon and his team made it look easy.