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 Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.


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

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In