An Examination of the Rise, Falter, and Recovery of the Banking Industry in Charlotte, North Carolina

Annie H. Pearson, University of South Carolina


This paper seeks to explore the rise of Charlotte, North Carolina as the banking capital of the South. Through the great depression, the mid-century, to the booming 1980s and 1990s. The story is driven by larger-than-life individuals who were determined to build up the small southern town into a national player. As the millennium came to an end, two enormous banks, Wachovia and Bank of America were positioned on either side of uptown, with their parity and rivalry pushing leadership to pursue risker deals in the chase to become the biggest. It was this rivalry, along with one of the most complex and dangerous asset bubbles in decades, set the financial industry on a collision course with disaster. Through the eyes of employees who worked inside of Wachovia to press releases and case studies, this paper examines what really happened in Charlotte in 2008, its implications, and how it shaped Charlotte’s future.