Forty years after BankAmerica topped The Banker's first global bank rankings in 1970, the US-based bank has once again taken the number one spot in 2010. While Bank of America, JPMorgan and Barclays all participated in 1970 and 2010, this 40th anniversary of the listings shows that much else has changed in the sector. The Banker's editor emeritus Stephen Timewell reports.
Guillaume Hingel, research manager of The Banker talks to Brian Caplen, editor of The Banker about the data methodology of the Top 1000 for 2010 and summarises what the results are showing about the changing financial landscape.
Despite pulling itself out of the worst recession the country has seen since the Second World War, Japan remains a deeply troubled economy saddled with a fiscal position that has in recent months gone from bad to worse: indeed, so parlous is Japan's predicament that in June the country's new prime minister, Naoto Kan, warned that the once mighty Asian economy may be staring a Greek-style public debt crisis in the face.
With the onset of the financial crisis, The Banker has focused much more of its Top 1000 data gathering on asset quality. This year, a total of 179 banks supplied comprehensive data on their levels of impaired assets, compared with 142 last year. While this still accounts for only 18% of total banks in the Top 1000, it is sufficient to begin to understand global trends in asset quality.
Signs of a general recovery in banking include the facts incurring losses are not recording them on the same scale as last year and that even the lowest Bank for International Settlement (BIS) capital ratios are higher than in 2009. The worst non-performing loan (NPL) percentages, on the other hand, are higher, suggesting that there is more pain to come.