WSJ: Selling 95% Of Failed Banks A Total Screw-Up

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Two regional bank CEOs say they can't find a failed bank they want to buy. The Wall Street Journalruns a story that makes it seem like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is going to be stuck with "a growing pile of terminally ill U.S. banks."
Well, that's not exactly true: One of the banks did find a failed bank it wanted to buy, but another bank made a better offer. Oh yea, and the FDIC says it's having no problem selling the banks it seizes.
You have to look hard for it, way down there in the 12th paragraph, after a quote from Stearns Financial Services CEO Norm Skalicky claiming that many of the seized banks "are of very poor quality" and something about "sluggish interest in doomed banks." But it's there:

About 95% of banks seized by regulators have been sold. While some attract few bids, the FDIC has "had tremendous success in finding buyers," the spokesman said. Two of the nine banks that failed this month were sold without loss-sharing agreements.

One-hundred and twenty-four banks have failed this year. That means that roughly six remain available. Quite the pile.
Sour grapes for the largest bank based in New England. Something a little more serious in England: Bank-loan write-offs have hit an all-time high in the United Kingdom.
British banks and building societies wrote down £5.33 billion in loans during the third quarter, up from less than £4 billion in the second, according to the Bank of England. Seems the Brits aren't paying their credit card bills.
U.K. banks haven't had it so bad since the BOE started tracking write-downs 16 years ago.
Buyers Take a Pass on Some Failed Banks [WSJ]
U.K. Bank Loan Write-Offs Hit Record Highs [WSJ]

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Banks Prove That They Are Not Too Big To Fail By Saying "We Can Fail" On A Piece Of Paper, Moving On

One way you could spend this slow week is reading the "living wills" submitted by a bunch of banks telling regulators how to wind them up if they go under. Don't, though: they're about the most boring and least informative things imaginable and I am angry that I read them.* Here for instance is how JPMorgan would wind itself up if left to its own devices**: (1) It would just file for bankruptcy and stiff its non-deposit creditors (at the holding company and then, if necessary, at the bank). (2) If after stiffing its non-deposit creditors it didn't have enough money to pay its depositors it would sell its highly attractive businesses in a competitive sale to willing buyers who would pay top dollar. This seems wrong, no? And not just in the sense of "in my opinion that would be sort of difficult, what with people freaking out about JPMorgan going bankrupt and its highly attractive businesses having landing it in, um, bankruptcy." It's wrong in the sense that it's the opposite of having a plan for dealing with banks being "too big to fail": it's premised on an assumption that the bank is not too big to fail. If JPMorgan runs into trouble that it can't get out of without taxpayer support, it'll just file for bankruptcy like anybody else. Depositors will be repaid (if they're under FDIC limits); non-depositor creditors will be screwed just like they would be on a failure of Second Community Bank of Kenosha.