Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bank Failure Friday – Another Triple!

While not so Stressful Test Results Await…

Three more banks fail

Silverton Bank closes, costing the Deposit Insurance Fund an estimated $1.4 billion. Smaller New Jersey and Utah banks also shutter.

NEW YORK ( -- Three more banks shut their doors Friday, according to the federal government, bringing the total number of failures up to 32 in 2009.

The first failure was a wholesale banking operator that served 1,400 other lenders across the country and was the fifth biggest bank failure during the current recession in terms of assets.

Georgia "bankers' bank": The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said in a statement that it created a bridge bank to take over the operations of Silverton Bank, National Bank, headquartered in Atlanta.

Unlike the other 30 banks that have failed so far in 2009, Silverton Bank did not take deposits directly from the general public or make loans to consumers. Instead, it was a "bankers' bank," offering a wide variety of services, such as foreign wire transfers, as well as clearing and cash management, to other banks.

Silverton was cooperatively owned by community banks throughout the Southeast and was heavily invested in loans to real estate developments in Florida, Georgia, and other parts of the Southeast, according to Christopher Marinac, managing principal of financial firm FIG Partners LLC based out of Atlanta, Ga.

When real estate values sank in the current downturn, the assets backing those properties also lost their value. The Southeast has seen numerous regional banks topple as the housing bubble burst.

At the time of its closing, Silverton Bank had approximately $4.1 billion in assets and $3.3 billion in deposits, all of which are expected to be within the FDIC's insurance limits.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund will be $1.3 billion, making it the fourth costliest bank failure since the start of the recession. "It is a bigger hit to the insurance fund than they have seen in the last couple weeks," Marinac said. "This is a bigger issue than we have seen in awhile."

Silverton served banks in 44 states and operated six regional offices. The FDIC created a bridge bank to take over the assets of the institution and has contracted The Independent Bankers Bank, out of Irving, Texas, to assist. The FDIC does not expect to see any significant impact to the bank's clients, at least in the near term.

However, the bridge bank only plans to be operational for 60 days, with a possible 30-day extension. When the bridge bank services terminate, the banks that were serviced by the cooperatively owned bank will have to go out and find another institution to take care of those services.

"There is no clear cut answer on a situation like this," said Marinac. "This is a little bit more complex and therefore there are more uncertainties about how this will unfold."

Thus far, the FDIC has not been able to find another wholesale bank to agree to take over Silverton's operations.
The FDIC will attempt to sell off the assets, but it could pose a challenge to find a buyer for risky commercial loans. However, the FDIC could try to find a buyer by discounting the debt. "Everything has a price," said Marinac.

New Jersey: State regulators shut down Citizens Community Bank Friday night, and named the FDIC as the receiver. The Ridgewood, N.J.- based bank had total assets of approximately $45.1 million and total deposits of $43.7 million as of Dec. 31.

North Jersey Community Bank, of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., has agreed to assume all of the deposits of the failed bank. The failed bank's single office will reopen Monday as the North Jersey Community Bank.

North Jersey Community Bank paid a premium of 0.67% to acquire all of the deposits of the failed bank and has agreed to purchase approximately $11.5 million in assets. The FDIC will hold onto the rest of the assets to dispose of later.

The FDIC will continue to fully insure individual accounts up to $250,000 through the end of 2009.

Utah: On Friday evening the FDIC also became the receiver of America West Bank, after the Utah regulators closed the institution. The Layton, Utah-based bank had total assets of approximately $299.4 million and total deposits of $284.1 million as of Dec. 31.

Cache Valley Bank, based in Logan, Utah, is assuming all deposits, paying discounted price of $352,000. It also agreed to buy nearly $11 million worth of America West's assets and took a 30-day option to purchase loans at book value. The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund will be $119.4 million.

America West's three branches will reopen Monday as Cache Valley Bank outposts.
Checking accounts, debit cards still work: Through the weekend, depositors of both Citizens Community Bank and America West Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on either of the failed banks will continue to be processed, and the FDIC said loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

Stress tests awaited

Local banks have been shutting down in droves as the recession has made it harder for customers and businesses to pay their loans. Nearly every Friday so far this year, at least one bank has failed. Last week, four regional banks were shuttered.

Even as the government has committed unprecedented amounts of money to increase liquidity and jumpstart the economy, the pace of bank failures has accelerated. In all of 2008, 25 banks failed, compared with 2009's 31 banks.

It is not only smaller, regional banks that have felt the pressure of the recession. The nation's largest banks have also been hit by rising default rates and a decline in business spending.

The assessment of the bank's health was expected to be made public May 4, but an announcement from the Treasury Department Friday indicated that results would be delayed until May 7.

Market watchers are anxiously awaiting the results of the stress tests, which have been designed to assess the banks' preparedness to weather further downturns in the economy, including further increases in unemployment and decreases in home prices.

So, the transactions are starting to get a little more complex, and more institutions are being seized without having a buyer in hand.

While it may appear that these failures are insignificant, what is happening is that the debts are mostly moving from one institution to another with the government’s backing, of course. This process, while clearing out the small and weaker players, does not clear out the debt and it leaves consumers with fewer banking choices and larger banking institutions to play with.

So, the fringes are fraying and getting clipped away. Large shifts always start at the fringes and thus these failures are important and should not be glossed over.

Meanwhile the really large institutions, all of which are truly insolvent, are being kept alive with government money and false/ completely phony accounting with the government’s blessing and backing, of course.

Again, the “Stress Test” is really no stress whatsoever. It’s a sham developed to divert attention and distract people away from the real issue while they are being robbed. Oh yeah, it’s also an excuse to “inject more capital” into the banks which is code for STEAL FROM THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER.

Meanwhile, they are milking this sham for everything its worth, now delaying the already delayed “results” yet again. And the market monkeys use this carrot to pump the financials or at least hold them up for as long as they can to draw in as many retail investors as possible to distribute their “equity” and overvalued debt to those buying into a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

And what an impressive rally it’s been in the financials… why this rally is of historic proportions, they say, you better get in before it’s too late! Yes, the XLF did rally an astonishing 81% in the past eight weeks!! But let’s look at the chart a little further out than 8 weeks for those who didn’t catch the XLF below $6, shall we?

Here’s a 2 year weekly chart of the XLF and you can see that it went from a high of over $36 to today’s $10.65 price, a DROP of 71%! Is the latest rally really any different than the previous ones of this bear market? Look at the volume pattern, that’s where you find confirmation or a lack thereof… and I’m seeing a very large divergence there between rising prices and falling volume. Does it really look different than the other bear market rallies?

And funny, but the stair step nature of this decline looks very similar to another and the comments along the way sound familiar too:

While this MAY have been THE bottom in the financials, you have to ask yourself what's changed FUNDAMENTALLY over the past two years in the banking system that will spark and initiate new growth and new profits? Yes, spreads have widened allowing the banks to arbitrage profits from the consumers… but have the debts cleared the system? And I don’t mean the banking system, I mean the economy. The answer is no either way. The only structural change has been letting accounting standards fall back to the banker’s good old mark-to-fantasy/ take a bonus ways. Oh, and the industry has consolidated its power and grip on politicians further – there’s progress.

Be my guest, go ahead and donate your money to their cause. Not me.

I will say it again. The only “once in a lifetime opportunity” here is to sell this rally and get positioned for what’s coming in the months and years ahead. It won’t be pretty, the banking system, the consumer, and the entire economy have already hit the wall...

Kansas – The Wall: