The Wall Street Journal attracted a lot of attention yesterday with the headline “Banks Keep Failing, No End in Sight.” If you’ve been reading Danny Schechter’s posts about the never-ending recession and financial crisis, it may not come as a surprise, but if you drank the “Recession’s Over” Kool Aid being dispensed in Washington, it might surprise you to learn that since big fish Washington Mutual went bust, 279 more lenders have collapsed, and counting:
The largest number of bank failures in nearly 20 years has eliminated jobs, accelerated a drought in lending and left the industry’s survivors with more power to squeeze customers.
Some 279 banks have collapsed since Sept. 25, 2008, when Washington Mutual Inc. became the biggest bank failure on record. That dwarfed the 1984 demise of Continental Illinois, which had only one-seventh of WaMu’s assets. The failures of the past two years shattered the pace of the prior six-year period, when only three dozen banks died.
Two more banks went down last Friday, and failures are expected to “persist for some time,” according to a report issued Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s. In the second quarter of this year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. increased its number of problem banks by 6% to 829.
Between failures and consolidation, the number of U.S. banks could fall to 5,000 over the next decade from the current 7,932, according to the top executive of investment-banking firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc.
The upside of failures is that they can represent a healthy cleansing of a sector that grew too fast, with bank assets more than doubling to $13.8 trillion in the decade that ended in 2008. Many banks that failed were opportunistic latecomers. Of the failed banks since February 2007, 75 were formed after 1999, according to SNL Financial.
Still, economists say, the contraction represents an enduring threat to capital, lending and the economy…
[continues in Wall Street Journal]