As bank failures mount into a heap of moldering economic stimulus, and the FDIC's Bank Insurance Fund shrinks to its lowest level in many years, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair tells the public that depositor have nothing to worry about, because, "The FDIC fully guarantees their insured deposits and provides them with seamless access to their money. For the insured depositor, a bank failure is a non-event."
This may be true for many depositors, however it is not true for the bank's "C" level management team, board of directors, and shareholders - they are the losers! In more ways than one! Not only do they lose their bank, but they lose their jobs, careers, and opportunity to associate with a bank in the future. With the FDIC there is no forgiveness, no bankruptcy court to "work out" the problems and reorganize the institution - the only option is failure.
The FDIC has a $100 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury - they can close a lot of banks with that much money. So far, all the banks that have been closed, the expense has been paid for by the FDIC's Member Banks through their deposit insurance premiums they have paid in over the years. We can only hope, the FDIC won't have to tap that line of credit. The law states that the FDIC guarantees deposits with the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government, which means borrowing from the U.S. taxpayers. We are the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.
In most cases when a bank is closed the deposits are available the next business day. This is because the FDIC is usually available to help another institution acquire the deposits and make good on them. Often the FDIC has to give a lot of concessions to the acquiring bank - which costs the insurance fund money. The complexity of these transactions, even for a small bank, takes many hours to iron out - often taking upwards of ninety people from the FDIC two weeks to close a bank.
The amazing thing is that with all the flaws of the system, it seems to work - no FDIC insured depositor one has ever "lost a penny of their deposits" according to Ms. Bair, "and none ever will". Thank goodness for the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.
As at-risk banks continue to deteriorate, the DIF's growing loss provisions have simply outpaced accrued and collected premiums, including a special assessment that was levied on insured institutions at the end of the second quarter. Rather than demand another special assessment, the FDIC is trying a new tactic to deal with the fund's depletion: prepaid premiums.
According to an FDIC press release, the FDIC Board "has adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) that would require insured institutions to prepay their estimated quarterly risk-based assessments for the fourth quarter of 2009 and for all of 2010, 2011 and 2012." The prepayments should generate roughly $45 billion in cash, a much-needed infusion for the anemic DIF.
Time Magazine is calling the tactic "an accounting trick," (http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1926877,00.html?iid=tsmodule ) but FDIC Chair Sheila Bair sees it as a necessary step in the fund's restoration. The move won't impact banks' profitability, since they won't recognize the expenses any sooner under prepayment. It will impact liquidity, but the FDIC's position is that banks have sufficient cash to absorb these prepayments.
The push for prepayments underscores the FDIC's commitment to manage through this crisis without asking the Treasury or taxpayers to foot the bill.
Assessment increase ahead
The aforementioned NPR also included an assessment increase of three basis points across the board, to be made effective on January 1, 2011.
More than 28 percent of insured institutions recorded a second quarter loss; in the year-ago period, 18 percent were unprofitable.
Bright spots: noninterest income, NIM
Some banks partially offset the rash of higher expenses with improved net interest margins (NIM) and higher noninterest income. The average NIM rose 9 basis points to 3.48 percent, and larger banks were the primary recipients of this improvement. Noninterest income increased by 10.6 percent or $6.5 billion. Other positives included reduced realized losses on securities, higher gains on assets sales, higher servicing fees and improved trading revenues.
Records set: net charge-offs, noncurrent loan rate
Net charge-offs spiked to $48.9 billion in the second quarter, sending the net charge-off rate to a record 2.55 percent. In dollars, charge-offs rose more than 85 percent from the second quarter of last year. Commercial and industrial loans (C&I) and credit card loans were the categories with the largest charged-off amounts in the second quarter.
Noncurrent loans and leases rose 14.3 percent, marking a thirteenth consecutive quarterly increase. The increase was driven by 1-4 family residential mortgages, real estate construction and development loans, and loans backed by nonfarm, nonresidential real estate. The noncurrent loan rate rose to 4.35 percent, the highest level on record, despite a record decrease in loans 30-89 days past due. All major loan categories contributed to this decrease, with real estate loans accounting for 83.5 percent of the improvement.
Capital improves, assets decline
Equity capital grew to 10.56 percent, its highest level since the spring of 2007. On average, capital ratios improved, although this improvement was concentrated in fewer than half of the insured institutions.
While 57 percent of insured institution increased their assets in the quarter, the industry average showed an asset decline of 1.8 percent. More than half of the decline was related to loans and leases. C&I loan balances were down, as were 1-4 family residential mortgages, and real estate construction and development loans. Small business loan balances also declined industry-wide.
The FDIC’s problem list now includes 416 institutions, making it the largest problem list since 1994. Twenty-four institutions failed in the second quarter and thirty-nine were merged into other banks. Only twelve new charters were approved.
At quarter-end, the FDIC imposed a special assessment on insured banks totaling 5 basis points of each institution’s assets less Tier 1 capital. Some 89 institutions with assets of $4 trillion were assessed 10 basis points of their second quarter assessment base.
During the second quarter, total deposits at insured institutions increased by 0.7 percent. Over the prior twelve months, total domestic deposits grew 7.5 percent.
Brokered deposits exceeding 10 percent of a bank’s domestic deposits are now included in the FDIC’s assessment calculation. At quarter-end, 1488 banks had brokered deposits exceeding 10 percent of their domestic deposits. Aggregate brokered deposits decreased by 5.8 percent in the quarter.
The Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) declined 20.3 percent during the second quarter to $10.4 billion. Factors that reduced the fund balance included:
• Increased loss provisions of $11.6 billion
• Unrealized losses on available-for-sale securities of $1.3 billion
Factors that increased the fund balance included:
• Accrued assessment income, including the special assessment, of $9.1 billion
• Interest earned, realized gains on securities, debt guarantee surcharges from TLGP of $1.1 billion
The DIF reserve ratio was 0.22 percent at quarter-end, vs. 1.01 percent at the end of last year’s second quarter.
So in difficult times, as we are experiencing now, the strategic plan of the FDIC is in place to guide the regulators in managing the complex issues they experience in the financial/banking environment. The targeted loss reserves are between 1.15 and 1.50 percent of estimated insured deposits. The loss reserve is the insurance fund, which is financed by charging the banks an insurance premium based on the risk exposure of the bank and its insured deposits. This premium is derived from the FDIC's Financial Risk Committee (FRC) assessments, quarterly failure projections and loss estimates. The FRC analyzes the risk exposure of the insurance fund based on the risks of the insured banks. When bank loans go bad, the risk exposure of the bank goes up and the FRC reevaluates the risk of the fund. This, in turn, sets a new premium for the bank and for other similar banks.
The FDIC reviews the assessment history of all failed banks on an ongoing basis to determine if the system is working properly. In 2007, after much research and testing, a new risk-based assessment system was implemented through the modification of FDIC systems and business procedures. This updated system is designed to measure the risk of individual banks more accurately, which allows for the assessment of fees that are more in line with the risk level. Currently, the FDIC is the primary regulator for 5,197 state-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System or are national banks or thrifts which are regulated by the OCC and OTS respectively.
Because of the complexity of the analysis that is required to develop accurate pricing and review the effectiveness of new regulations, the FDIC will require additional staff. Further demands will arise from the combining of the Bank Insurance Fund and the Savings Association Insurance Fund; the merger affected 48 information systems and resulted in some changes in deposit coverage. As a result, the FDIC will require new analysis techniques and will be tasked with extensive testing of the systems. All of these systems are necessary to manage the risk of consumers and businesses not being able to pay their debts, while keeping consumer and commercial deposits safe and accessible.
This enormous balancing act adds to the challenge of starting a new bank. The risks to a new bank are great because they have new capital to employ; new banks need assets on the books and many deposits to help fund the new loans. However, because of the strict regulatory controls, new banks succeed more often than not. It is rare that a de novo bank fails. If the right organizers and bank board, management team, business plan and capital are in place, chances are great that a de novo bank will succeed.
By Wendell Brock, MBA, ChFC
De Novo Strategy, Inc.