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The Making of the “Big Four” Banking Oligopoly in One Chart

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]T[/su_dropcap]HE “Big Four” retail banks in the United States collectively hold 45% of all customer bank deposits for a total of $4.6 trillion.

The fifth biggest retail bank, U.S. Bancorp, is nothing to sneeze at, either. It’s got 3,151 banking offices and employs 65,000 people. However, it still pales in comparison with the Big Four, holding only a mere $271 billion in deposits.

Today’s visualization looks at consolidation in the banking industry over the course of two decades. Between 1990 and 2010, eventually 37 banks would become JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup.

Of particular importance to note is the frequency of consolidation during the 2008 Financial Crisis, when the Big Four were able to gobble up weaker competitors that were overexposed to subprime mortgages. Washington Mutual, Bear Stearns, Countrywide Financial, Merrill Lynch, and Wachovia were all acquired during this time under great duress.

The Big Four is not likely to be challenged anytime soon. In fact, the Federal Reserve has noted in a 2014 paper that the number of new bank charters has basically dropped to zero.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

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