Two Georgia banks closed to push total to 146

Regulators closed three banks in the United States on Friday, bringing the number of closures this year to 146.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp has said it expects bank closures to peak this year after 140 closures in 2009. The bulk of this year's closures have been smaller institutions, each with less than a billion dollars in assets.

The FDIC announced the following closures on Friday:

* Darby Bank & Trust of Vidalia, Georgia. Had assets of $654.7 million and deposits of $587.6 million. Ameris Bank of Moultrie, Georgia, agreed to assume the deposits.

* Tifton Banking Company of Tifton, Georgia. Had assets of $143.7 million and deposits of $141.6 million. Ameris Bank of Moultrie, Georgia, agreed to assume the deposits.

* Copper Star Bank of Scottsdale, Arizona. Had assets of $204.0 million and deposits of $190.2 million. Stearns Bank National Association of St. Cloud, Minnesota, agreed to assume the deposits.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said recently that while the number of failures will exceed last year's tally, the total assets of this year's failures will likely be lower.

Community banks continue to be hit hard by the weak economy and the amount of bad loans on their books. Their recovery has lagged behind that of larger institutions and the broader economy.

Washington Mutual, which had $307 billion in assets when it was seized in September 2008, remains the largest bank to fail during the financial crisis.

A trouble spot for community banks is the problems in the commercial real estate market as they tend to have higher concentrations of these loans than larger banks.

The FDIC last month lowered its estimate to $52 billion from $60 billion for the cost of bank failures for the five years through 2014.

The agency's Deposit Insurance Fund, financed by banks that pay into the fund, guarantees individual accounts up to $250,000.

The FDIC is in the process of changing the way it collects money from banks, as required by the law passed earlier this year overhauling the way U.S. financial institutions are regulated.

The law requires the FDIC to base the assessments it charges for the fund on a bank's total liabilities rather than on the amount of domestic deposits held by an institution. The result is that some large banks, those that primarily rely on funding other than from deposits, will pay more.

[Source: By Corbett B. Daly, Reuters, Washington, 12Nov10]

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