More Than 700 Banks Are on FDIC's 'Troubled' List
"Consistent with a recovering economy, we saw signs of improvement in industry performance," said FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair (pictured) in a statement. "But as we have said before, recovery in the banking industry tends to lag behind the economy, as the industry works through its problems assets."
Banks swung to a small profit in the most recent quarter, earning $914 million, versus a loss of $37.8 billion in the final quarter of 2008. Most of that improvement was driven by large banks, the FDIC said, although for the first time in three years, more than half of federally insured institutions reported increases in profit compared to a year earlier. "It's not that this was a strong quarter; it's simply that everything was so bad a year ago," Bair said.
The agency keeps the names of banks on the problem list under wraps to protect them from debilitating runs by depositors, which could destabilize them further. However, the FDIC does publish aggregate figures derived from its examinations of their books.
Another 45 institutions failed during the fourth quarter, bringing the total number of bank failures for 2009 to 140, the highest annual total since 1992, the FDIC said. The agency insures deposits at more than 8,012 institutions with in excess of $13 trillion in assets.