Banks Crushed Profit Record With $237 Billion in 2018, FDIC Says

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. banking industry demolished previous profit records, making $237 billion last year as lenders benefited from lower taxes and soaring revenue, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Thursday.

  • Industry net income was $59 billion in the three-month period that ended Dec. 31, marking another quarter with profits around the $60 billion mark after they hovered around $40 billion a quarter for years after the 2008 crisis, according to the FDIC’s Quarterly Banking Profile. The 2018 total was 44.1 percent higher than a year earlier.
  • Only 6.5 percent of banks were unprofitable as the industry took in a record $205 billion in revenue for the quarter, the agency said. 
  • Income from interest rose 8.1 percent in the quarter compared with a year earlier. Loan and lease balances were up 2.1 percent since the previous quarter.
  • “Loan balances expanded, net interest margins improved and the number of ‘problem banks’ continued to decline,” FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams said in a statement.
  • McWilliams cautioned that “the recent flattening of the yield curve may present new challenges in lending and funding.”
  • Because 2018 also saw the FDIC hit its statutory goal for building up its deposit-insurance fund, big banks are also getting a break on what they pay into the fund.
  • Wall Street lenders didn’t see a lot of help in last year’s overhaul of the Dodd-Frank Act, but bankers have been steadily lobbying the regulators appointed by President Donald Trump on relieving some of the burdens of post-crisis rules, and they’re counting on winning some of those arguments.

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