2012 Was Wall Street’s Most Profitable Year Since The Financial Crisis

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., banks in 2012 had their most profitable year since 2006 and their second most profitable year ever. Banks made nearly $35 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, bringing their yearly total to more than $141 billion:

Commercial banks and savings institutions insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reported aggregate net income of $34.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, a $9.3 billion (36.9 percent) improvement from the $25.3 billion in profits the industry reported in the fourth quarter of 2011. This is the 14th quarter in a row that earnings have registered a year-over-year increase. Increased noninterest income and lower provisions for loan losses continued to account for most of the year-over-year improvement in earnings. For the full year, industry earnings totaled $141.3 billion — a 19.3 percent improvement over 2011 and the second-highest ever reported by the industry after the $145.2 billion earned in 2006.

Wall Street bonuses, while not attaining the same heights to which they rose in 2006, also increased last year. Despite their high profitability, banks are still trying to circumvent or water down the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, claiming that it will undermine their ability to do business. Overall, the financial sector sucks $635 billion out of the economy every year that could be spent on more productive uses.