They're Baaack: U.S. Banks Had Their Second-Best Year Ever in 2012

More

U.S. banks celebrated their second-most-profitable year in 2012 with a whopping $141 billion in net income last year. That's scarcely smaller than the record, $145 billion, set just before the crash, in 2006, according to the FDIC.

I wondered: What do the last three decades in bank profits look like? Based on FDIC data (and adjusting for inflation), they look like this.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 10.33.47 AM.png

This weekend, Evan Soltas drew a wonderful graph showing that the financial industry takes home half a third of all corporate profits -- up from 10 percent after World War II. When you build an economy that subsidizes debt through homeownership, gives preferential treatment to investment income, and guarantees that the biggest banks will never fail, you get what you ask for. A country where finance plays by a separate set of rules and runs away with a third of the profit.


Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In