Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Two Centuries of U.S. Banking Concentration: 1820-2019

Author(s): Caroline Fohlin and Matthew Jaremski

Publication Date: March 2020

Keyword(s): bank concentration and Too Big To Fail

Programme Area(s): Economic History and Financial Economics

Abstract: Concentration plays a key role in banking efficiency and stability, yet the literature lacks any long-run analysis of U.S. banking industry structure. This paper uses newly-collected archival data to provide the first study of banking concentration from the early years of the republic through 2019. While concentration was declining or stable before the mid-1920s, statistical tests identify a structural break thereafter, as concentration started steadily rising as a result of growth at the nation's largest five banks, particularly those located in New York City. A second structural break in the mid-1990s further accelerated the upward trend in concentration before slowing down during the Great Recession.

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Bibliographic Reference

Fohlin, C and Jaremski, M. 2020. 'Two Centuries of U.S. Banking Concentration: 1820-2019'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.