10 Biggest Banks in America

By John Maxfield Markets Fool.com

Image source: iStock/Thinkstock.

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America's biggest banks are massive. Just how large are they? Here are the 10 biggest banks in America as of the third quarter of 2016:


Total Assets (Millions)*

JPMorgan Chase


Bank of America


Wells Fargo




U.S. Bancorp


Bank of New York Mellon


PNC Financial


Capital One Financial


State Street




*As of the third quarter of 2016. Data source: YCharts.com.

The interesting thing about this list is that the banks on it have grown substantially in size since many of them were derided as being too big to fail during the financial crisis.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) is a case in point. Going into the crisis, it was far from the biggest bank in the United States. That distinction went to Citigroup (NYSE: C), followed by Bank of America (NYSE: BAC).

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But two developments swung things in JPMorgan Chase's favor. The first was that both Citigroup and Bank of America dove headlong into risky credit card loans and subprime mortgages during the housing bubble that preceded the financial crisis.

In the fourth quarter of 2008 alone, Citigroup reported a $31 billion pre-tax net operating loss. Bank of America's total financial crisis-related costs, meanwhile, amounted to $191 billion.

As a result of these losses, both Bank of America and Citigroup have had to spend much of the past decade regrouping and retrenching, generally shedding assets as opposed to growing.

JPMorgan Chase, on the other hand, went into the crisis in perhaps better shape than any other big bank, with Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) being a possible exception.

Run by Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon, who writes anincredible shareholder lettereach year, JPMorgan Chase unloaded its subprime exposure well before the crisis took hold. This positioned the New York-based bank to not only survive the financial crisis, but to thrive because of it.

In March of 2008, at the behest of the federal government, JPMorgan Chase swooped in to acquire Bear Stearns, the fifth largest investment bank at the time. Six months later, JPMorgan Chase did the same with one of the largest depositories in the United States, the then-teetering Washington Mutual. And because of their perilous states, JPMorgan Chase bought both forpennies on the dollar.

The same sequence of events allowed Wells Fargo to more than double in size during the crisis by way of its 2008 acquisition of its larger rival Wachovia. The net result is that Citigroup was eclipsed not only by JPMorgan Chase, but also by Wells Fargo, which is now the third biggest bank in America.

In short, not only are the nation's largest banks already huge, but many of them continue to get even bigger.

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John Maxfield owns shares of Bank of America, US Bancorp, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Wells Fargo. 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.