Magazine article American Banker

VIEWPOINT: From Top 50 to out of the Picture

Magazine article American Banker

VIEWPOINT: From Top 50 to out of the Picture

Article excerpt

Byline: Alex J. Pollock

How many formerly famous banks have disappeared in only a generation! Of the 50 largest U.S. bank holding companies by assets in 1983, only eight still exist as independent companies. For those of us who have spent some time in the banking trade, reading the 1983 list is a sobering remembrance. Only 16% of these 50 once-prominent banks have survived; 84% have passed into memory.

It is hard to keep clearly in focus, as we think about business or investment strategy, how profound the change can be in a relatively short time. The bank trainee who was 23 years old at the time of our original list is now only 50-with perhaps another 15 or 20 years in the business to experience still more shifting of the foundations.

Our list displays the riskiness of banking and its pervasive consolidation over the last generation. Do we expect the risk or the consolidation to stop now? …

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