The largest American banks are accumulating an unprecedented amount of cash.
Businesses and consumers have entered more than $ 2.4 trillion in deposits so far this year, and in July the total amount reached a record $ 15.65 trillion, according to data from the Federal Reserve.
This would normally be good news, but we are not exactly living in normal times. Banks are not using this excess money. In theory, this additional capital should reduce your financing costs. However, as interest rates are at such low levels, the profitability of loans has fallen further.
Net interest income for the four largest US banks – JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo – fell 10% (down $ 5 billion) in the second quarter of the year.
The abundance of cash is due to the enormous effort that the government has made to prop up the economy: the Federal Reserve’s multi-million dollar debt purchase plan and stimulus plans, additional unemployment benefits and the great program of assistance to small businesses from Washington.
Companies prefer not to invest this money for fear that the situation will get worse.
When could people and companies take money out of their deposits? Banks are unaware of it and that is why they are reluctant to invest it in financial securities even if they are more profitable. So they have a lot of capital but they are not using it. However, as this does not affect its stock valuation, investors do not care.