Thursday, September 25, 2008

FDIC May Need $150 Billion Bailout as Local Bank Failures Mount

On September 8 (jeez that seems like a long time ago) we posted "The Next Bailout" on the status of the FDIC insurance fund. This morning I had meant to post the Bloomberg story whose headline you see above. My forgetfulness is your gain because you now get a twofer, the story and the FDIC's response.
From Bloomberg:

...The IndyMac debacle is taking a large bite out of FDIC reserves, and if scores of other banks fail in the year ahead, the fund will be depleted. Taxpayers will have to step in.

Worst Wave

Americans have gotten used to the idea that bank failures were as rare as a category five hurricane. No banks went bust in 2005 or 2006. Seven collapsed in 2007 as the credit crisis began to exact a toll. So far in 2008, 12 more, with total assets of $42 billion, have fallen -- that's the worst wave of bank failures since 1992.

IndyMac, which had $32 billion in assets when it went into receivership, is the most expensive bank failure the FDIC has ever covered. And that record may not stand for long.

By the end of 2009, about 100 U.S. banks with collective assets of more than $800 billion will fail, predicts Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, a Torrance, California-based firm that sells its analysis of FDIC data to investors.

``It's not going to be Armageddon,'' says Mark Vaughan, an economist and assistant vice president for banking supervision and regulation at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Virginia. ``But it's going to be bad.''>>>MUCH MORE

Remember, Wilbur Ross thinks it will be closer to 1000 failures.

From the FDIC:

Open Letter to Bloomberg News about FDIC Deposit Insurance Fund

Bloomberg reporter David Evans' piece ("FDIC May Need $150 Billion Bailout as Local Bank Failures Mount," Sept. 25) does a serious disservice to your organization and your readers by painting a skewed picture of the FDIC insurance fund. Let me be clear: The insurance fund is in a strong financial position to weather a significant upsurge in bank failures. The FDIC has all the tools and resources necessary to meet our commitment to insured depositors, which we view as sacred. I do not foresee – as Mr. Evans suggests – that taxpayers may have to foot the bill for a "bailout."

Let's look at the real facts about the FDIC insurance fund. The fund's current balance is $45 billion – but that figure is not static. The fund will continue to incur the cost of protecting insured depositors as more banks may fail, but we continually bring in more premium income. We will propose raising bank premiums in the coming weeks to ensure that the fund remains strong. And, at the same time, we will propose higher premiums on higher risk activity to create economic incentives for poorly managed banks to change their risk profiles. The fund is 100 percent industry-backed. Our ability to raise premiums essentially means that the capital of the entire banking industry – that's $1.3 trillion – is available for support....MORE

HT: Calculated Risk for the pointer to the FDIC letter.