In what may come as a surprise to some, the top 3 banks in the world by market cap, are not based in the US, nor the UK, nor, obviously, Europe. All three are Chinese, namely ICBC, CCB and the Agricultural Bank of China. The top two US banks by market cap, Wells and JPM, are 4th and 6th respectively. And what is probably scarier, and what is not shown on the chart, is the amount of "assets" that these banks need to hold on their balance sheets to generate the returns needed to maintain this market cap: off the top of our head we would imagine that the US banks, when adding derivative exposure, have balance sheet risk that is orders of magnitude higher than that of China. Yet the most fascinating aspect is the amazing speed with which China took over the banking world (and with which market caps have increased), in the past 20 years. Without a single bank in the top 10 as recently as 2005, China now has 4 banks among the ten biggest in the world. Yet should China be worried and is history poised to repeat? Back in 1991, 6 of the top 10 largest banks in the world... were Japanese. Now not one of the 6 is to be found anywhere.
via Goldman Sachs