The FDIC failed seven (7) additional banks on December 18th. Two in California and one each in the states of Illinois, Alabama, Michigan, Florida and Georgia. The jump from an average of four per cycle to seven indicates that the build up of the FDIC's task force for bank closures has reached operational status and we can expect that the pruning of weaker banks from the system will proceed at a brisker pace in 2010.
This is a good thing. Clipping off the low tail of a moribund system serves to eventually bring the overall industry up the quality tree. It's an example of a regulatory agency doing what it's supposed to. Yes I do hear those of you lamenting "if only we could do the same over in the large bank and investment bank segments of the system." True there's a lot more politics involved in arresting the risk shifting gamesmanship at the upper end of the spectrum to actually achieve some productive pruning. I'll take a little larger view though. The remainder of the banking system is being "trained up" by what the FDIC is doing and eventually this higher quality population of competitors will make their mark on the landscape. There may be some "mastodon stew" for these emerging hunter gatherers to feast on yet.
So here's the next installment of what I think will be a weekly forensic report by IRA. Your feedbck is important so let me know if you want to see more of these.
First Federal Bank of California, FSB Santa Monica, CA
Imperial Capital Bank La Jolla, CA
Independent Banker' Bank Springfield, IL
New South Federal Savings Bank Irondale, AL
Citizens State Bank New Baltimore, MI
Peoples First Community Bank Panama City, FL
RockBridge Commercial Bank Atlanta, GA
As you'll see in these forensic tables the IRA Bank Stress Index letter grading methodology picks up on the stresses with a fair bit of warning. More than enough to implement tactical plans to mitigate exposure and shift assets to more stable institutions.
IRA is taking a survey of how CFO's, Treasurers, bankers and bank counterparties feel about the current financial landscape. It's a short survey and we invite you to participate. If you'd like to take the survey please email Diana Waters before January 15, 2010.