Bank Of America's Bad Decisions Could Turn JPMorgan Chase Into Country's Biggest Bank

When Bank of America swooped in to save swooning Merill Lynch and Countrywide in 2008, it achieved its goal of becoming the largest bank in the U.S. Three years on, those same acquisitions could be dragging BofA into a second-place position behind JPMorgan Chase.

Reuters reports that both Chase and BofA have been zapped by the Big Bank Shrink Ray in recent years, but Chase hasn’t been affected as significantly as the current leader in the bank biz.

Chase is still holding around $80 billion in low-credit mortgage and credit card loans, most of it tied to the bank’s acquisition of a failing Washington Mutual. However, BofA has around $100 billion in similar loans on its books, almost all of it related to its acquisition of Countrywide.

Additionally, Bank of America has been saddled with more than $20 billion in settlements and losses related to the poisonous mortgages and securities it inherited from the failed lender.

Thus, reports Reuters:

JPMorgan has been gaining ground on Bank of America for three straight quarters. At the end of March, JPMorgan’s $2.20 trillion of assets were just 3.4 percent short of Bank of America’s $2.27 trillion. JPMorgan already is the most valuable bank in the stock market, with its equity worth nearly 50 percent more than Bank of America’s.

Analysts say Chase could overtake BofA in the lead spot — or rather, BofA could sink behind Chase — anywhere from six to 18 months from now.

Analysis: JPMorgan close to becoming the top U.S. lender [Reuters]