Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The big news in banking circles this week was GE Capital managing to shed its designation as a Systemically Important Financial Institution—that is, a firm so large that the Treasury Department forces it to keeps higher levels of capital reserves and endure annual stress tests.

No financial firm likes being tagged as a SIFI, and General Electric especially so since GE Capital is only one part of its overall business. That prompted GE to sell off various parts of GE Capital until it was small enough to be systemically unimportant, and regulators agreed last week to drop the label.

Banks get the SIFI designation when their assets become so large that financial regulators start to get skittish. (Pre-financial crisis, these would be “Too Big to Fail” banks, after all.) So to commemorate the GE Capital moment, Calcbench decided to take a look at U.S.-designated SIFIs and see how much their assets have or have not grown in the last five years.

Don’t die of shock here, but yes, big banks have continued to get bigger.

Collectively the assets of U.S. SIFIs grew $1.058 trillion from 2010 to 2015—an increase of 33 percent. Liabilities grew by $909 billion (31.6 percent), stockholder equity by $146.8 billion (43.7 percent).

Here’s a closer look at the 20 banks designated as U.S. SIFIs:

We have two caveats to this data. First, as you can see, Capital One and Citizens Financial were not U.S. SIFIs in 2010; hence the zero balance for that year.

Second, you may be wondering where the true banking behemoths are—Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and all the other gigantic institutions with more assets than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett put together. Those firms are global SIFIs, and they are different from U.S. SIFIs. We’ll take a look at the G-SIFIs (yes, that’s what they’re called) another day.

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