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15 Years Ago, the Combined Assets of the 6 Biggest Banks Totaled 17% of GDP... By 2006, 55% ... Now, 63%

George Washington's picture


You know the big banks have gotten bigger.

As Rolfe Winkler noted last September:

the big have gotten even bigger since the start of the financial
crisis. At the end of 2007, the Big Four banks — Citigroup, JPMorgan
Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo — held 32 percent of all
deposits in FDIC-insured institutions. As of June 30th, it was 39

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But Simon Johnson gives an even broader perspective on how big the too big to fails have gotten:

years ago, the combined assets of our six biggest banks totaled 17
percent of our GDP. By 2006, that number was 55 percent. Right now, it
stands at 63 percent.

Johnson also points out that:

big four have half of the market for mortgages and two-thirds of the
market for credit cards. Five banks have over 95 percent of the market
for over-the-counter derivatives. Three U.S. banks have over 40 percent
of the global market for stock underwriting.

As I've previously noted, the government created the mega-giants (they are not the product of free market competition), and their very size destroys the real economy like a massive black hole destroys the matter around it.

And as Johnson and many others
have pointed out, the very size of the giant banks enables them to 
easily capture politicians ... about as easily as the
Great Attractor captures galaxies.



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Wed, 03/03/2010 - 00:53 | Link to Comment dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

is that whole pie a crumb from Goldman's dessert napkin?

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 23:45 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 22:42 | Link to Comment JimS
JimS's picture

At the current rate-of-change, the top 6 banks will control 95% in 7 years, or less, and they are TBTF right now. Looks bleak folks. Looks like we should just let them go, and then we'll all be Hobos like "merehuman". Wonderful!

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 23:33 | Link to Comment Privatus
Privatus's picture

The only persistent monopolies or oligarchies are those created by the state. US money center banks are creatures of the state, which prohibits by law the creative destruction of the manifest inefficiencies of the banking cartel. TARP and its progeny are the primary expressions of this destructive conservation of ineffiency (and inequity).

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 20:45 | Link to Comment London Banker
London Banker's picture

More than 20 years ago a forensic accountant told me that the rate of asset growth at a bank was the surest indicator of its likely failure. 

Your documenting the rate of asset growth at the six largest banks in the US makes me think of his observation.  If it holds - and it has held for over four hundred years of banking history - then the failures ahead are going to be of massive global proportion.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 18:47 | Link to Comment Hulk
Hulk's picture

Bob Brinker interviewed Larry McDonald, former Lehman Brothers Vice president, last weekend and it was a stunner
(Larry has a new book out , a "colossal failure of common sense"
reputed to be the next "Liar's poker")
Mcdonald stated that the TBTF's should be called "Too big to manage"
and are simply too big for any CEO to understand their balance sheet and that they should be reduced in size so as to not pose systemic risk. He stated that AIG and CITI are too big and place the system at risk
He also stated that Fuld had a board full of 70+ year old cronies
and he is appealing to congress for enacting term limits on Corporate boards.
He said that Lehman had 40,000 traders making money and ONLY 8 who lost money. No kidding, 8.
McDonald was fascinating to listen to, full of piss and vinegar,
and I intend to read the book when it arrives tomorrow.
The interview can be listened to on Brinker's site, but the audio section of the site is for pay only
On an unrelated, but important subject,Brinker also discussed the fact that when Paulsen took the treasury job, he had to divest himself of all Goldman Stock. All 500 million worth.
The twist is: he didn't have to pay taxes on that money, because the government ordered its divestment, they also allow that it be tax free .UNBELIEVABLE
Paulsen saves $200 Million (estimated) for two years worth of work!
I don't know whether to get pissed off, turn green and rip up the place or cry. unbelievable....

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 21:37 | Link to Comment merehuman
merehuman's picture

I actually bring home 25,000 per year. But cause i am slow, late  and short of money i get the penalties and add ons. Turns out i end up owing 10,000.00 per year to the irs.

This was my last year in business. Licenses, insurance, bond, house insurance, truck insurance, plates, lic. renewal, city work permit, county building permit.

Got freedom?  one meal per day and a sleeping bag is all i really need. But all these years i have been paying out the ass. I am so tired of it. All that for a life style?

Been a hobo many years as well and had more quality in my life, because the time(limited life span) was my own.

I thought i could live in a happy place in the middle, but found society saddles one with more , and more and MORE.  DONE

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 18:05 | Link to Comment Hughe Crapper
Hughe Crapper's picture

Who saw the video of Charlie Munger about derivatives? Point made.

Simon Johnson finds that 95 procent of all OTC derivatives are controlled by 5 WallStreet banks. Thats the 'real' reason the TARP bailout was done. Approx 500 trillion in nominal value for a bunch of interconnected zombie paper.

The entire world is captured by WallStreet and their Keynesian deathtrap, only because the US had no other option to keep the system running, thereby inflating the currency lower.

In my opinion, the other 5 percent of derivatives are not really a problem to unwind or expire over time. But with the US inflating, contraction of the banking system will be detrimental for non-dollar denominated exports as the currency will get stronger from credit contraction and unwinding of derivatives. A deadlock for the Euro.

Am I far off?


Tue, 03/02/2010 - 20:39 | Link to Comment Rick64
Rick64's picture

Didn't see the Munger video, but I suspect that the problem is much bigger than they are letting on. You are correct in that the derivitives market is a complex problem now that they let it get out of hand. In 1998 it was estimated at 25-30 trillion and now it is at 600 trillion. This is all derivitives combined. A good documentary about this is "The Warning" on Frontline. You will see they let this run wild with no regulation purposely. They were warned 11 yrs. ago.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 15:06 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 15:00 | Link to Comment Leo Kolivakis
Leo Kolivakis's picture

Concentrate power in the hands of a few, allowing your economic elite to financially rape the population at perpetuity.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 14:05 | Link to Comment Frank Owen
Frank Owen's picture

Just round up all the banks, military, government, private businesses, into one too big to fail corporation and call it Ingsoc, mmkay? Thanks GW.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 19:09 | Link to Comment Dirtt
Dirtt's picture

Yes George.  But you managed to do it once.  We can do it again.

Frost-bitten and famished. But we can do it again.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 13:47 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 13:23 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 16:01 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 03/03/2010 - 07:06 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 15:50 | Link to Comment WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Hey, anon, good one, +1'ed yourself. Let me help you out: is known the too big to fail status is achieved through competition...

No, they achieve greater market share by stifling competition.

The government failed to resist this process.


Too big to fail is not a product of the government.

That's pretty damn naive.

The fact is the government could not resist the banks.

Our government is the banks...

Banks know how to deal with cartels.

...because the banks are a cartel.

So a claim of the opposite might be worth reviewing.

Thanks for playing, anon.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 21:26 | Link to Comment merehuman
merehuman's picture

and that is the beauty of ZEROHEDGE.

This works better than the market. There we try to find price (and fail)

Here we try to find truth , and we win.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 16:46 | Link to Comment ThreeTrees
ThreeTrees's picture


TBTF is a product of government, period.  Goldman and probably many others wouldn't even exist in the same way today if it wasn't for TBTF.  It doesn't matter how big they get they can't escape the market and this depression proves it.  The whole purpose of government intervention over the past 2-3 years has been to prop up asset values and protect the paper solvency of the TBTFs.

The market is felling these giants that government has created.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 13:54 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 12:55 | Link to Comment SRV - ES339
SRV - ES339's picture

If this is true, they should be able to pick up the health care tab for all!

Something is seriously wrong with these numbers... if not, sign me up for the liberation forces (no guns here, but I'm sure I could get a few of them "hand to hand" before they get me).

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 12:49 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 11:52 | Link to Comment Obaminator
Obaminator's picture

Well....we didnt think they were gunna walk away with nothing did we?

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 11:04 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 10:17 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 10:12 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 15:48 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 12:15 | Link to Comment Ripped Chunk
Ripped Chunk's picture

Here is today's rate sheet:

Go open an account with them today.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 19:42 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 03/03/2010 - 00:50 | Link to Comment dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

stop robbing their revenue streams

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 16:43 | Link to Comment Frank Owen
Frank Owen's picture

Listened to him a fair bit but had no idea he wore a patch.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 10:12 | Link to Comment Rick64
Rick64's picture

Brings a whole new meaning to TBTF.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 09:52 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 11:28 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 09:50 | Link to Comment 10044
10044's picture

One must be dumber than dumb to have more than 2k in the bank. FDIC is BROKE. Move your money to brokerage acct and get cash in your home safe. When citi wants 7 days notice for withdrawal, you know it's time to head for exit

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 20:00 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Wed, 03/03/2010 - 00:49 | Link to Comment dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

dope smoking thugs aren't the ones to worry about..the sober ones are

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 10:15 | Link to Comment Postal
Postal's picture

Used coffee "cans" (they're actually plastic, nowadays), and a good shovel. Hey, it's not like burying it in the ground is costing me interest or anything.

Thu, 03/04/2010 - 19:28 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 08:29 | Link to Comment Anonymous
Tue, 03/02/2010 - 06:43 | Link to Comment Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

I don't like the scary animated gif.

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 13:43 | Link to Comment macfly
macfly's picture

I know, it appears to have inevitability of a game of Pacman!

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