number of banking institutions

After a run of several years where numerous banks failed each year, no banks failed in 2018, and only four failed in 2019. The low number of bank failures last year, and the absence of any bank failures the year before, clearly are signs that the economy is strong and the banking industry generally is profitable. But the banking sector is notoriously volatile and historically registers all of the economy’s ups and downs vividly. Is it possible that the current banking sector calm itself foreshadows trouble ahead? That is the question asked in a January 6, 2020 Wall Street Journal article entitled “Few Bank Failures Could Be a Warning Sign for U.S. Financial System” (here).
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According to the FDIC’s latest Quarterly Banking Profile (here), as of September 30, 2013, there were 6,891 federally insured banking institutions, down from 6,940 at the end of the second quarter and down from 7,141 as of September 30, 2012. There were 8,680 banking institutions as recently as December 31, 2006, meaning that