The Decline of US Small Banks

Mercatus Center at George Mason University
Monday, February 24, 2014

A new study of FDIC statistics finds that the number of small banks and their share of US banking assets declined substantially since 2000 while the five largest US banks expanded. Small banks’ share of domestic deposits fell from 40 percent to 23 percent since early 2000 while their share of US banking assets declined from 36 to 19 percent. The five largest banks now hold 44 percent of US banking assets and 40 percent of domestic deposits—up from 23 percent and 19 percent, respectively, in early 2000. Some of the decline among small banks is organic, as market forces encourage combinations in order to spread operational costs over a larger customer base. Increasing regulatory burdens, which absorb a larger percentage of small banks' budgets, also encouraged consolidation. Other banks have simply outgrown their 'small' status. But more than five percent of small banks were found to have failed in the wake of the economic crisis.