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Bank failure tally passes 100 for the year

By Ben Rooney, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A Minnesota bank was closed by government regulators Friday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said, bringing the total number of failed banks this year past 100.

Community Security Bank of New Prague, Minn., was the 101st in a string of small, regional banks to fail this year. While conditions have improved for many of the nation's largest banks, the lingering effects of the financial crisis continue to take a toll on local lenders across the country.

The FDIC expects the wave of bank failures that started in 2008 to peak sometime this year. Lending activity has picked up in some areas and many troubled firms have found new sources of capital.

FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray said the agency expects the number of failed banks to exceed last year's total of 140, though he added that failures this year will not approach the historic levels seen during the savings and loan crisis. In 1989, a record 534 banks were closed by regulators.

Still, banks have been failing at a rapid pace this year. At this time in 2009, regulators had closed a total of 57 banks.

Analysts expect small banks to remain the most likely to fail. Regional lenders continue to suffer from mounting loan losses, particularly in areas like commercial real estate. Big financial firms, on the other hand, have largely returned to profitability.

Meanwhile, there is evidence to suggest that the banking industry has recovered from the worst of the financial crisis.

The FDIC said in May that the number of firms on its "problem bank list" fell to 775 during the first quarter of this year from 702 in the same period in 2009.

Banks and other institutions insured by the FDIC collectively earned approximately $18 billion during the quarter. That's the highest profit since the first quarter of 2008 and was a more than three-fold increase from a year ago.

As of the first quarter, the fund had a deficit of $20.7 billion. But that's including money the agency has set aside in anticipation of future bank failures. In addition, the fund grew by $145 million during the quarter -- the first increase in two years.

- CNNMoney.com staff writer, Julianne Pepitone contributed to this report. To top of page

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