As detailed in a recent post (here), one of the more worrisome trends in an economic environment full of thing to worry about is the increasing number of bank failures involving community banks. This trend continued this past Friday night when the FDIC closed three more banks, brining the 2009 bank closure tally up to six.
The three banks closed on Friday were MagnetBank of Salt Lake City, Utah, which has assets of $292.9 million (and the details about which can be found here); the Suburban Federal Savings Bank of Crofton, Maryland, with assets of $360 million (refer here); and Ocala National Bank of Ocala, Florida, with assets of $223.5 million (refer here).
A particularly troublesome note regarding the Utah bank’s closure is that the FDIC was unable to find a buyer for the bank’s assets or deposits, which the Wall Street Journal described (here) as a “rare event and an ominous sign for regulators.” According to news reports (here), this is the first time in over five years that the FDIC has been unable to find a buyer for a failed bank’s assets. In the absence of a buyer, the FDIC will issue checks to the bank’s depositors, increasing the impact on the FDIC insurance fund.
The failure of the Suburban Federal Savings Bank was the first bank failure in Maryland since 1992. As detailed in the Washington Post (here), the bank’s failure was precipitated by mounting losses in the bank’s mortgage loan portfolio.
Perhaps even more noteworthy than the fact that the total number of bank failures in 2009 is already up to six banks is the fact that the total number of bank failures in the seven month period between July 1, 2008 and January 31, 2009 is 27. (The FDIC’s complete list of failed banks for the period October 2000 through the present can be found here.) That is a huge number and all signs are that these numbers will continue to grow as 2009 progresses. The Journal article specifically observed that regulators are “bracing for dozens of more lenders to collapse in the coming months.”
Along those lines, it is worth noting that in the FDIC’s Quarterly Banking Profile for the Third Quarter of 2008 (here), which is the FDIC’s most recent quarterly profile, the number of institutions on the FDIC’s problem list increased from 117 to 171, and the assets of the “problem institutions” rose from $78.3 billion to $115.6 billion. This is the first time since 1994 that assets from problem institutions have exceeded $100 billion.
The FDIC’s next quarterly banking profile, for the quarter ending December 31, 2008, will not be released until later in February (the reports are issued 55 days after each quarter end). It will be interesting to see how significant the deterioration was in the fourth quarter.
As I detailed in my prior post, both historically and more recently, an increase in the number of failed banks has meant an increase in failed bank litigation. As the bank failures continue to mount, the threat of increased bank related litigation will also continue to grow.