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Biggest U.S. Banks Flooded With Deposits in ‘Flight to Quality’

March 27, 2020, 9:01 PM

Deposits are pouring in at the largest U.S. lenders as consumers and corporate clients seek shelter from the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

Deposits at domestically chartered commercial banks in 2020 rose 5.3% through March 18 -- more than triple the increase from a year earlier, according to data released Friday by the Federal Reserve. The year-ago data counts deposits made through March 27. Driving the gains are the 25 largest banks, which have gained $500 billion in deposits since year-end.

“Goliath is winning when it comes to a potential crisis such as this because there’s a flight to quality,” Mike Mayo, bank analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said in an interview. “Whether you believe the label ‘too big to fail’ or not, it sure doesn’t hurt to attract deposits in an environment like this.”

Citigroup Inc. Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason underscored the trend at an investor conference earlier this month, saying “you would expect to see” such a deposit influx “in uncertain times and we certainly experienced that thus far.”

To contact the reporter on this story:
Hannah Levitt in New York at hlevitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Michael J. Moore at mmoore55@bloomberg.net

Dan Reichl, Daniel Taub

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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