While the stock market was beginning its 376 point plunge yesterday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was quietly putting the best face it could on a banking system in serious trouble. In a press release to update the status of the insurance fund, the big positive headline was, “FDIC-Insured Institutions Earned $18 Billion in the First Quarter of 2010–Net Income Highest in Two Years.” FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair said, “There are encouraging signs in the first-quarter numbers . . . Industry earnings are up. More banks reported higher earnings, and fewer lost money.” (Click here for the complete FDIC press release.)
I can appreciate Chairman Bair’s positive attitude, but “encouraging signs” do not mean we have turned the corner and brighter days are ahead. The Deposit Insurance Fund, or DIF, has a negative balance of -$20.7 billion. That is just a $200 million improvement from the all time record deficit of -$20.9 billion at the end of 2009. I don’t see how these numbers are “encouraging.”
I talked with FDIC spokesman David Barr yesterday about the shortfall in the DIF. He said, “The FDIC is not broke.” It has an additional “$63 billion in cash.” He told me there is about $46 billion in three years of prepaid deposit insurance premiums and an additional $17 billion in cash for a grand total of $63 billion in “liquid resources” to close insolvent banks. Let me get this straight–nearly 75% of the FDIC’s bailout money is from fees collected up front. What happens when the FDIC burns through that? Will they collect another 3 years of fees?
This article was posted: Friday, May 21, 2010 at 11:37 am