At least that seems to be the take away from Global Finance Magazine’s ranking of the world’s safest banks. The top 9 banks in the magazine’s World’s 50 Safest Banks list are all state-backed institutions.
The No. 1 bank on the list is Germany’s KfW, which doesn’t so much act as a traditional bank but as a government-driven lending machine, created in post-war Germany to spur infrastructure spending.
The first publicly traded bank on the list is Canada’s TD Bank Group at No. 11.
Canada as a nation can wave that Maple Leaf flag high as its so-called Big 5 banks all ranked in the top 26.
That blows the U.S. out of the water.
No U.S. bank cracks the list until No. 29 with Bank of New York Mellon, the trust bank that last year threatened to start charging for deposits when customers flooded it with cash.
The top three U.S. banks by assets, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America and Citigroup, miss the cut all together. Wells Fargo, the fourth-biggest U.S. bank comes in at 48th, just ahead of the Standard Chartered in the U.K.
J.P. Morgan had been No. 34 last year.
But those on the list had better not rest on their supposedly safe laurels.
In 2007, the Top 50 counted as Numbers 11-13 Citigroup, Royal Bank of Scotland and Dexia. The list also included HBOS, Wachovia, ABN Amro and Fortis. One financial crisis later and the idea that any of those banks were safe in 2007 is laughable.
Here’s the full 2012 list, which is compiled using credit ratings and assets:
1. KfW – (Germany)
2. Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (BNG) – (Netherlands)
3. Zürcher Kantonalbank- (Switzerland)
4. Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank- (Germany)
5. Landeskreditbank Baden-Württemberg – Förderbank (L-Bank) – (Germany)
6. Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC) – (France)
7. Nederlandse Waterschapsbank – (Netherlands)
8. NRW.Bank – (Germany)
9. Banque et Caisse d’Épargne de l’État – (Luxembourg)
10. Rabobank Group – (Netherlands)
11. TD Bank Group – (Canada)
12. Bank of Nova Scotia- (Canada)
13. DBS Bank – (Singapore)
14. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp – (Singapore)
15. United Overseas Bank – (Singapore)
16. Caisse centrale Desjardins – (Canada)
17. Royal Bank of Canada – (Canada)
18. National Australia Bank – (Australia)
19. Commonwealth Bank of Australia – (Australia)
20. Westpac Banking Corporation – (Australia)
21. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group – (Australia)
22. Kiwibank – (New Zealand)
23. HSBC Holdings – (United Kingdom)
24. Nordea – (Sweden)
25. Bank of Montreal – (Canada)
26. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce – (Canada)
27. Svenska Handelsbanken – (Sweden)
28. China Development Bank -(China)
29. Bank of New York Mellon Corp – (United States)
30. Agricultural Development Bank of China – (China)
31. National Bank of Abu Dhabi – (United Arab Emirates)
32. CoBank ACB – (United States)
33. Pohjola Bank – (Finland)
34. National Bank of Kuwait -(Kuwait)
35. DZ Bank – (Germany)
36. Banque Fédérative du Crédit Mutuel (BFCM) – (France)
37. U.S. Bancorp - (United States)
38. National Bank of Canada – (Canada)
39. Northern Trust Corp – (United States)
40. Qatar National Bank – (Qatar)
41. Samba Financial Group – (Saudi Arabia)
42. BancoEstado – (Chile)
43. La Banque Postale – (France)
44. Bank of Taiwan – (Taiwan)
45. Shizuoka Bank – (Japan)
46. Banco de Chile – (Chile)
47. BNP Paribas – (France)
48. Wells Fargo – (United States)
49. Standard Chartered – (United Kingdom)
50. SEB – (Sweden)