Each week, the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors publishes the H.8 Release, which details aggregate balance sheet data (assets and liabilities) for all commercial banks in the United States. And each week, the data can be found in FRED. In this first of three related posts, we examine recent trends in selected assets and liabilities of large and small domestically chartered commercial banks.
Although we aren’t providing a comprehensive examination of recent developments in the US banking sector, the FRED graph above does plot total bank assets for large and small commercial banks since the week ending January 7, 2015. This 8-year period encompasses the previous FOMC tightening cycle (2015-2018), the pandemic recession in early 2020, and the current economic recovery and current FOMC tightening period since March 2022. The values below were calculated as of March 15, 2023:
- Assets at large commercial banks increased from $9.1 trillion to $13.2 trillion, or by 44.8%.
- Assets at small commercial banks increased from $3.6 trillion to $7 trillion, or by 94.5%.
- On January 7, 2015, the ratio of total assets at large banks vs. small banks was 2.56. By March 15, 2023, that ratio had declined to 1.90.
So, there’s been a modest shift in total assets away from the 25 largest commercial banks to small commercial banks. (The H.8 Release also includes foreign-related institutions active in the United States and shows their assets increased from $2.5 trillion to $3.1 trillion, or by 22.7%, over this period.)
Large commercial banks are defined in the H.8 as the 25 largest commercial banks in terms of domestic assets, and small commercial banks are those not in the top 25 but with at least $300 million in assets. The bulleted details below are based on the commercial bank call report data ending December 31, 2022:
The 25 largest banks:
- These banks had total domestic assets of $13.43 trillion, or a little more than 51% of nominal GDP.
- The largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, had assets of $2.48 trillion.
- The 25th largest bank had assets of $155.4 billion.
- Before it failed on March 10, 2023, Silicon Valley Bank was the 16th largest bank, with assets of $194.51 billion.
The 2,099 other (small) banks:
- Signature Bank, which failed on March 12, was the 29th largest bank and had assets of $110.36 billion.
- Domestic assets of these small banks totaled $6.4 trillion, with an average of $3.05 billion.
- A majority of these banks (1,312, or 61.8%) had assets of less than $1 billion.
The full list of commercial banks and their assets as of December 31, 2022, can be found here,
Recently, many financial market participants have worried about the financial health of the US banking sector. This had led to sharp declines in stock prices of many “regional banks.” In response, the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, and US Treasury have taken actions to calm the fears of both depositors and investors. Nevertheless, while Federal Reserve and Treasury officials continue to stress that the commercial banking sector is “sound and resilient, with strong capital and liquidity…events of the last few weeks raise questions about evolving risks.” (Governor Michael Barr, Congressional testimony)
Our next related blog post will look at recent trends in securities held on commercial bank balance sheets, and the related post after that will look at trends in loans and leases and deposits, which has garnered attention lately. FRED users interested in monitoring the US commercial banking sector can do so by analyzing weekly trends in commercial banks’ balance sheets found in these H.8 data.
How this graph was created: Search FRED for and select “total assets large banks.” Click on “Edit Graph,” open the “Add Line” tab, and search for and select “total assets small banks.” Start the graph on 2015-01-01.