Thursday, June 30, 2011

Since 1985 there are 50% fewer banks in the US making 350% more in loans*...Nothing can go wrong there, right?

The first graph below shows the change in the number of commerical  banks in the US since the mid-1980's.  I was quite surprised by the rapid decline in a relatively short period of time. Roughly a 50% drop. The slope is pretty steep considering it only represents 25 years.  Another interesting thing is that it appears recessions did not hasten the decline, which you might expect as some banks would fail--the decline just slides through the recessions like they never happened (post-2009 migth be the exception).  

Source: The New Arthurian Economics
 This next graph shows the growth in loans in Commericial/Industrial Loans (Business Loans for expansion, Capital Purchases, Accounts Receivables, etc), Real Estate (residential and commercial properties)  Loans and Loans to Consumers (Cars, Credit Cards, Student Loans, etc). Prior to 1985 banks were balanced in there portfolios of loans to these three sectors.  After 1985, there was a dramatic shift towards Real Estate loans.  Starting in the mid to late 1990's the Real Estate loan line (Red) becomes VERY steep and banks portfolios become very unbalanced (numerically and perhaps psychologically, too-- :) ).  

Source: The New Arthurian Economics
  What happened during the period between 1985 and the late 1990's that set in motion (1) the  decline in the number of banks and (2) the rapid increase in the number/value of loans made? Hmm...fewer banks making more loans...nothing bad can happen there, right?? Yes, Art, you can play along too and correct me as needed :)

*rough, ballpark calculation just by eyeballing--- 1985 about $1.7T and in 2011 about $6T..$6T/$1.7T = 3.529 x 100 = 353%
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