FDIC Quarterly Report on US Banks

As noted by the WSJ, the American Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has released its 4Q07 Quarterly Banking Report. It starts off with a bang!:

Record-high loan-loss provisions, record losses in trading activities and goodwill impairment expenses combined to dramatically reduce earnings at a number of FDIC-insured institutions in the fourth quarter of 2007. Fourth-quarter net income of $5.8 billion was the lowest amount reported by the industry since the fourth quarter of 1991, when earnings totaled $3.2 billion. It was $29.4 billion (83.5 percent) less than insured institutions earned in the fourth quarter of 2006. The average return on assets (ROA) in the quarter was 0.18 percent, down from 1.20 percent a year earlier. This is the lowest quarterly ROA since the fourth quarter of 1990, when it was a negative 0.19 percent. Insured institutions set aside a record $31.3 billion in provisions for loan losses in the fourth quarter, more than three times the $9.8 billion they set aside in the fourth quarter of 2006. Trading losses totaled $10.6 billion, marking the first time that the industry has posted a quarterly net trading loss. In the fourth quarter of 2006, the industry had trading revenue of $4.0 billion. Expenses for goodwill and other intangibles totaled $7.4 billion, compared to $1.6 billion a year earlier. Against these negative factors, net interest income remained one of the few positive elements in industry performance. Net interest income for the fourth quarter totaled $92.0 billion, an 11.8-percent ($9.7-billion) year-over-year increase.

… but things aren’t always as they seem …

Earnings weakness was fairly widespread in the fourth quarter. More than half of all institutions (51.2 percent) reported lower net income than in the fourth quarter of 2006, and 57.1 percent reported lower quarterly ROAs. However, the magnitude of the decline in industry earnings was attributable to a relatively small number of large institutions. In contrast to the steep 102 basis-point drop in the industry’s ROA, the median ROA fell by only 14 basis points, from 0.93 percent to 0.79 percent. Seven large institutions accounted for more than half of the total year-over-year increase in loss provisions. Ten large institutions accounted for the entire decline in trading results. Five institutions accounted for three-quarters of the increase in goodwill and intangibles expenses, and sixteen institutions accounted for three-quarters of the year-over-year decline in quarterly net income. One out of every four institutions with assets greater than $10 billion reported a net loss for the fourth quarter. Institutions associated with subprime mortgage lending operations and institutions engaged in significant trading activity were among those reporting the largest earnings declines.

… and capital ratios were, by and large, reasonable …

Total equity capital increased by $25.1 billion (1.9 percent) during the fourth quarter. This increase lagged behind the 2.6-percent increase in assets during the quarter, and the industry’s equity-to-assets ratio declined from 10.44 percent to 10.37 percent. Goodwill accounted for almost one-third ($7.9 billion) of the increase in equity, despite large write-downs of goodwill at several institutions. The industry’s leverage capital ratio registered a larger decline during the quarter, because leverage capital does not include goodwill. The leverage ratio fell from 8.14 percent to 7.98 percent, a four-year low. In contrast, the industry’s total risk-based capital ratio, which includes loss reserves, increased from 12.74 percent to 12.79 percent. At the end of 2007, 99 percent of all insured institutions, representing more than 99 percent of total industry assets, met or exceeded the highest regulatory capital standards.

… although things got a little hairy at the margins (and, presumably, with the big money-centre banks) …

The number of FDIC-insured institutions reporting financial results declined from 8,559 to 8,533 during the fourth quarter.2 Fifty newly chartered institutions were added during the quarter, while 74 institutions were absorbed by mergers. One insured commercial bank failed in the fourth quarter. For the full year, 181 new insured institutions were chartered, 321 charters were absorbed in mergers, and three insured institutions failed. In the previous two years, there were no failures of FDIC-insured institutions, an interval unprecedented since the inception of the FDIC. In 2004, four insured institutions failed. Five mutually owned savings institutions, with combined assets of $4.8 billion, converted to stock ownership in the fourth quarter. For the entire year, ten insured savings institutions with total assets of $10.1 billion converted from mutual ownership to stock ownership. At the end of 2007, there were 76 FDIC-insured commercial banks and savings institutions on the “Problem List,” with combined assets of $22.2 billion, up from 65 institutions with $18.5 billion at the end of the third quarter.

All in all, I think the report justifies my remark in the Crony Capitalism? post:

As far as the overall health of the banking system is concerned, let’s look at the Fed’s Term Auction Facility. The last one was reported on February 12; there was one today. The very low premium on this money relative to Fed Funds – and the continuing drop in the TED Spread – leads me to conclude that insolvency, potential or undiscovered, is not a problem in the banking system. It’s illiquidity, pure and simple.

3 Responses to “FDIC Quarterly Report on US Banks”

  1. […] If we assume that the first three of those categories comprise all FDIC-insured institutions, then the numbers add up for RMBS exposure, more or less, anyway. The FDIC Quarterly Report on US Banks for 4Q07 has been previously discussed; the figure shown in Table II-A for “Mortgage-backed securities” is slightly over 1,236-billion, which is fairly close to the sum of the relevant categories in Exhibit 3.7 which is being examined. […]

  2. […] It is interesting to note, from the FDIC report, that data for 4Q93 (the point at which the Fed said, “OK, play-time’s over, we’re going to start hiking now”) indicated that the 13,220 institutions reporting had $375-billion in capital backstopping $4,707-billion in total liabilities and capital, an equity leverage ratio of 12.61. The current FDIC report, 4Q07, shows 8,533 institutions with capital of $1,352-billion backstopping $13,039-billion, equity leverage of 9.6:1. […]

  3. […] to the most recent FDIC quarterly report: Unused loan commitments – includes credit card lines, home equity lines, commitments to make […]

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