The 10 Biggest Banks in America

As a group, the nation's biggest banks are only getting bigger, led by the likes of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Fifth Third Bancorp.

Apr 6, 2014 at 7:28AM

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Because I write about bank stocks every day, I often find myself referring to this or that bank as the nation's third or whatever largest bank by assets. With this in mind, every so often I try to publish an actual list. And that's what this is.

In the following chart, I've laid out the 10 biggest banks in America according to the value of the assets on their balance sheets. For the record, there hasn't been any movement in the ranks since I last did so. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) is still first, followed by Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and rounding out the list is Ohio-based Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ:FITB).

That being said, it's still worth observing just how large these institutions are. This is particularly true of the top four: JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. Despite all of the post-crisis legislation, it's no stretch of the imagination to call these lenders too big to fail. Or, let me rephrase that, if they were indeed ever allowed to fail, it'd be prudent to own guns and gold, and to know a thing or two about hunting and gathering.

Without further ado, here's the ranking of the 10 largest traditional lenders in America -- for the record, the list excludes custodial and investment banks as well as insurance companies and other nontraditional lenders:

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In terms of ranking, as I noted above, this list is identical to one I shared last year. However, this shouldn't be taken as a sign that nothing has changed. Most notably, virtually every bank on the list has gotten bigger since the end of 2009 -- that is, following the main wave of post-financial crisis mergers.

Alternatively, Bank of America is the only one that's actually contracted in size, shrinking by 5.7% in an effort to "right size" its operations in light of the prevailing economic and regulatory environments.

What does this mean going forward? You can be the judge of that. But whatever the answer is, this chart makes it clear that we're still a long way from solving the problem of too big to fail.

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John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Fifth Third Bancorp, and JPMorgan Chase. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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