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Bank profits hit new high in 2013

March 7, 2014 |

It’s hardly “news” at this point to report that the nation’s banks have recovered strongly from the financial crisis, but the results for last year provided even more evidence:

·       Profits for the year hit $154.7 billion, according to reports filed with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That is the highest level ever.

·       Only 24 banks failed last year, the fewest since 2007.

·       In December, the nation got its first new bank in nearly four years when the colorfully named Bank of Bird-in-Hand opened its doors in Lancaster County, Pa.

·       Lending continued to grow, up 3 percent last year. However, at $7.79 trillion, bank loans remain below the peak of $7.85 trillion they reached in June of 2008.

·       Banks even increased the amount they lent for construction and land development, the first time that had happened since 2008. (On the other hand, total loans in this category are less than a third of the level they reached at the end of 2007.)

·       The FDIC said it had 467 banks on its problem list. At the end of 2010 there were 884 banks on that list. The agency does not identify those banks.

·       The Investigative Reporting Workshop now lists just 126 banks with more nonperforming assets than capital, down from a peak of 411 in March of 2010.

All of that is in stark contrast to the conditions in the banking industry when we launched Banktracker five years ago this month.

As we reported then, the main culprit was the real estate collapse that produced startling amounts of bad loans and led to foreclosure levels not seen since the Great Depression.

Troubled assets — a combination of nonperforming loans and repossessed property — amounted to $151.8 billion at the end of December. At the height of the crisis, in March 2010, troubled assets were $382.1 billion. It might be noted, though, that troubled assets were just $109 billion at the end of 2007.

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