The Federal Insurance Deposit Corporation announced today that it had added 450 more banks to its troubled bank list. The list is secret, because announcing that a bank is in trouble is a good way to kill it for good.
And now the NYT brings us a depressing recap:
The troubles may get worse in the coming months. Once the Fed starts tightening credit, banks will no longer be able to rely on the easy profits of the last two years to cushion their losses. The extra strain could causes dozens of additional banks to fail, just as similar interest-rate swings dealt hurt many lenders following the saving-and-loan crisis.
So far, the F.D.I.C. has seized and sold about 20 banks in 2010, compared with 140 bank failures in 2009. That was the largest number of failures in 17 years. Analysts expect at least several hundred more small lenders to collapse over the next few years, a prospect that seems more likely given the surge in the number of problem institutions last year. The number of problem banks rose by 150 in the fourth quarter alone, bringing it to nearly 1 in 11 lenders.
As far as whether or not the FDIC will have enough money to deal with all these failing banks… well… nobody seems real confident. The FDIC is funded by fees levied on banks themselves. Once that money is gone they have an emergency line of credit with the US Treasury.
In late August, Ms. Bair [FDIC boss] said she did not anticipate having to tap that line of credit immediately, although she did not rule it out. “I never say never,” Ms. Bair said at the time.