Daniel Gross

Non-Failure Friday: The Continuing Decline of Bank Failures

Contrary Indicator

Nearly four years have passed since the Panic of 2008 and the economy has been expanding for nearly three years. Even as many analysts remain skeptical of the durability of the recovery, the trends are clear. Almost across the board, financial failure is on the decline in America. Delinquency rates on mortgages and credit cards, corporate defaults, and personal bankruptcy filings are all trending downward, which is good news for the financial system and for the economy at large. Banks have been among the beneficiaries of the decline in failure. When fewer people and institutions fail to keep up with their debts, fewer banks fail.

Our intermittent Failure Friday series, which documents the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's moves to take over failed banks, helps tell the story. Here's the last installment. In 2009 and 2010, the FDIC took over an average of three banks per week. But the financial SWAT teams that descend on listing banks over the weekend have had less work to do of late. On Friday, April 13, for the second straight week, no banks were closed.

Through the first 15 weeks of 2011, only 16 banks with a combined $5.018 billion in assets have failed. That's relatively high by historical standards. But in the first fifteen weeks of 2011, 34 banks with a combined $14.8 billion in assets failed. So far this year, then, bank failures are running at less than half the rate of 2011. (Here's the complete failed bank list.)

Daniel Gross is economics editor at Yahoo! Finance

Follow him on Twitter @grossdm; email him at grossdaniel11@yahoo.com

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