Banking System Conditions

The financial condition of the U.S. banking system is generally strong.

The strong economy has contributed to improvements in the financial condition of banks. Two important measures of profitability--return on equity (ROE) and return on average assets (ROAA)--have seen steady gains over the past several years and attained a 10-year high in the second quarter of 2018 (figure 1).5 Earnings for firms of all sizes have been bolstered by rising net interest income. Moderately rising interest rates have been positive for bank earnings and have helped drive increases in net interest income.

Figure 1. Bank profitability
Figure 1. Bank profitability
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Note: ROAA is net income/quarterly average assets; ROE is net income/average equity capital. Values are annualized.

Source: Call Report and FR Y-9C.

Firms have reported growth in loan volume coupled with lower nonperforming loan ratios.

Loan growth remains robust, with total loan volume for the industry growing over 30 percent since 2013 (figure 2). Commercial and industrial (C&I) loans and non-residential real estate loans have experienced the strongest growth. Since 2013, the volume of C&I and non-residential real estate loans has grown by over 40 percent. Residential real estate lending, which continued to experience structural changes over this period, exhibited tepid growth.

Recently, nonbank finance companies are increasing their market share in new mortgage originations, and large banks are shifting their mortgage exposures from loans to securities. As a result, the banking industry's overall loan portfolio is shifting away from residential real estate loans toward C&I loans (figure 3).

Figure 2. Loan growth by sector
Figure 2. Loan growth by sector
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Source: Call Report and FR Y-9C.

Figure 3. Loan composition
Figure 3. Loan composition
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Note: Loan composition is individual loan categories as a share of total loans. Chart key shows bars in order from bottom to top.

Source: Call Report and FR Y-9C.

The nonperforming loan ratio--one measure of asset quality--is generally improving or stable across the banking system (figure 4).Currently, nonperforming loans as a share of total loans and leases are at or near a 10-year low. However, nonperforming C&I loans increased in 2016 because of a slowdown in the oil and gas industry.

Figure 4. Non-performing loan ratio
Figure 4. Non-performing loan ratio
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Note: Non-performing loan ratio is the ratio of loans 90 days or more delinquent and nonaccrual loans to total loans.

Source: Call Report and FR Y-9C.

Firms maintain reserves to provide a cushion against losses on loans and leases they are unable to collect. One important financial metric is the ratio of allowance for loan and lease losses (ALLL, which is the amount of reserves banks set aside to absorb losses related to troubled loans) to the volume of nonperforming loans and leases held by a bank, also known as the reserve coverage ratio (figure 5). A higher ratio generally indicates a better ability to absorb future loan losses.

Figure 5. Reserve coverage ratio
Figure 5. Reserve coverage ratio
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Note: Reserve coverage ratio is the ratio of ALLL to loans 90 days or more delinquent and nonaccrual loans. Data adjusted for Ginnie Mae guaranteed loans.

Source: Call Report and FR Y-9C.

Since 2013, as the volume of nonperforming loans has declined, the industrywide coverage ratio has improved considerably. While the entire industry has seen an improvement in this ratio, the largest firms have seen the greatest improvement. It is important to note that nonperforming loan status is a lagging indicator of loan losses and other factors are considered when estimating the allowance, such as changes in underwriting standards and changes in local or regional economic conditions.

As profitability and asset quality continue to improve, firms still maintain high levels of quality capital.

Capital provides a buffer to absorb losses that may result from unexpected operational, credit, or market events. Since the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has implemented new rules that have significantly raised the requirements for the quantity and quality of bank capital, particularly at the largest firms. As a result of the new requirements, capital levels have increased across the industry (figure 6).

Figure 6. Common equity tier 1 ratio/share of institutions not well capitalized
Figure 6. Common equity tier 1 ratio/share of institutions not
well capitalized
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Note: Common equity tier 1 is the ratio of tier 1 common equity to risk-weighted assets.

Source: Call Report and FR Y-9C.

Firms have also significantly bolstered their liquidity after coming under funding pressure during the financial crisis.

The funding stresses faced by large banks during the financial crisis heavily influenced the subsequent U.S. regulatory framework for addressing funding and liquidity risk. The financial crisis demonstrated the need to ensure that banks hold enough fundamentally sound and reliable liquid assets to survive a stress scenario. Liquidity requirements put in place since the crisis have significantly increased aggregate levels of highly liquid assets (figure 7).

Figure 7. Highly liquid assets as share of total assets
Figure 7. Highly liquid assets as share of total assets
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Note: Highly liquid assets (HLA) displayed here are an approximation of high-quality liquid assets (HQLA).

Source: Call Report and FR Y-9C.

The banking industry remains concentrated, while the market share of the largest banking organizations has declined.

Over the past few decades, as the banking system has grown, there has been a trend of increased bank consolidation. During the height of and immediately after the financial crisis, as the financial system was strained, many banks failed or merged with other institutions. Upon closing, their assets were sold to other, often larger, institutions, and the industry saw a wave of consolidation and growth of the largest institutions. In recent years, however, concentration has slowed by some measures. Even as the total volume of loans and leases has been growing, the distribution of those loans has spread to a broader section of the industry. The market share of loans for the 10 largest banking organizations has declined (figure 8).

Figure 8. Concentration of banking industry outstanding loans and leases
Figure 8. Concentration of banking industry outstanding loans
and leases
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Note: Data prior to 2018 are as of year-end. The 2018 value is as of the end of 2018:Q2.

Source: Call Report and FR Y-9C.

Market indicators generally reflect stronger industry performance.

The improvements in overall banking system conditions since the crisis are reflected in market indicators of bank health, such as the market leverage ratio and credit default swap (CDS) spreads. The market leverage ratio is a market-based measure of firm capital, and a higher ratio generally indicates investor confidence in banks' financial strength. Credit default spreads are a measure of market perceptions of bank risk, and a small spread reflects investor confidence in banks' financial health. Both measures are close to pre-crisis levels (figure 9).6

Figure 9. Average credit default swaps (CDS) spread and market leverage ratio
Figure 9. Average credit default swaps (CDS) spread and market
leverage ratio
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Note: Market leverage ratio is the ratio of market value of equity to market value of equity plus total liabilities. CDS values are for the eight U.S. LISCC firms (Bank of America; Bank of New York Mellon; Citigroup; Goldman Sachs; JPMorgan Chase; Morgan Stanley; State Street; Wells Fargo) and four FBO LISCC firms only (Barclays; Credit Suisse; Deutsche Bank; UBS).

Source: Credit default spread--IHS Markit; market leverage--Bloomberg, Factset.

Box 1. Institutions Supervised by the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve is responsible for the supervision and regulation of bank holding companies (BHCs), savings and loan holding companies (SLHCs), state-chartered banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System (state member banks or SMBs), and the U.S. operations of foreign banking organizations (FBOs). The Federal Reserve tailors regulatory and supervisory strategies to the size and complexity of the institutions that it supervises.

For supervisory purposes, the Federal Reserve categorizes institutions into the groups in table A.

Table A. Summary of organizations supervised by the Federal Reserve
Portfolio Definition Number of institutions Total assets ($ trillions)
Large Institution Supervision Coordinating Committee (LISCC) Eight U.S. global systemically important banks (G-SIBs) and four foreign banking organizations (FBOs) with large and complex U.S. operations 12* 12.0
State member banks (SMBs) SMBs within LISCC organizations 5 0.5
Large and foreign banking organizations (LFBOs) Non-LISCC U.S. firms with total assets $50 billion and greater and non-LISCC FBOs 183 7.5
Large banking organizations (LBOs) Non-LISCC U.S. firms with total assets $50 billion and greater 20 3.6
Large FBOs Non-LISCC FBOs with combined U.S. assets $50 billion and greater 19 3.1
Small FBOs FBOs with combined U.S. assets less than $50 billion 144 0.8
State member banks SMBs within LFBO organizations 9 1.0
Regional banking organizations (RBOs)** Total assets between $10 billion and $50 billion 78 1.6
State member banks SMBs within RBO organizations 46 0.5
Community banking organizations (CBOs) Total assets less than $10 billion 4,047 2.4
State member banks SMBs within CBO organizations 742*** 0.5
Insurance and commercial savings and loan holding companies (SLHCs) SLHCs primarily engaged in insurance or commercial activities 11 insurance 4 commercial 1.1

Note: Data are as of June 30, 2018. The table reflects the de-designation for supervision by the Federal Reserve of Prudential Financial, Inc., by the Financial Stability Oversight Council on October 17, 2018.

* Bank of America; Bank of New York Mellon; Citigroup; Goldman Sachs; JPMorgan Chase; Morgan Stanley; State Street; Wells Fargo; Barclays; Credit Suisse; Deutsche Bank; UBS.

** In July 2018, the Federal Reserve implemented changes to its supervisory portfolio designations that raised the total asset threshold between large and regional banking organizations from $50 billion to $100 billion. These changes will be fully reflected in the next iteration of this report.

*** Includes 673 SMBs with a holding company and 69 without a holding company.

 

References

 5. The dip in ROE and ROAA in 2017 was driven by a one-time tax effect. Return to text

 6. Definitions of market leverage and credit default swap spreads are included in Appendix A: DataReturn to text

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Last Update: November 14, 2018