Figuring out where money from the financial bailout is landing has been a source of great debate over the last several months. The regional differences in our financial system have helped fuel the populist Wall St. versus Main St. refrain and claiming distance from the bad banks and bailout funds has become a point of pride for many communities. As Senator Klobuchar recently wrote, her home state of Minnesota “is a place where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the bankers are above average.”
Unfortunately for Minnesota and the country as a whole, reality is a bit more complex. While not all banks—or the communities where they operate—have had the same need for government rescue, to varying degrees we have all shared the benefits and risks of a deeply integrated financial system. And now, a common responsibility for addressing the crisis.
As part of our work with Pew on Subisdyscope.com, tracking the bailout, we have created a map that shows banking activity in terms of deposits held, branch locations and mortgage lending for every county. This data set, collected from the FDIC and Federal Reserve, allows us to map the geographic reach for a specific financial institution. And by combining banking activity data with our existing database of TARP recipients we’re able to create a new view into the geography of the bailout.