The Making Of The “Big Four” Banking Oligopoly In One Chart

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The Making Of The “Big Four” Banking Oligopoly In One Chart


The “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.

Via Visual Capitalsit

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The Making Of The “Big Four” Banking Oligopoly In One Chart

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.

Big Four Banking Oligopoly

From 2009 to 2013, only seven new banks were formed.

“This dramatic reduction in new bank charters could be a concern for policymakers, if as some suggest, the decline has been caused by increased regulatory burden imposed in response to the financial crisis,” the authors of the Federal Reserve paper write.

Competition from small banks has dried up as a result. A study by George Mason University found that over the last 15 years, the amount of small banks in the country has decreased by -28%.

Big Four Banking Oligopoly

Big banks, on the other hand, are doing relatively quite well. There are now 33% more big banks today than there were in 2000.

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