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What the Hell is a Bank Doing With Mini-Japanese Sculptures?

When a community bank gets seized by the FDIC, you expect its non-deposit assets to include some computers, office chairs, bank vaults, free lollipops, stress balls, stuff like that. But Bank of Lincolnwood, a Chicago-area community bank that was shut down last year, has some peculiar, and expensive, collectibles in its coffers.

Most of the stuff, which is being auctioned off by the FDIC, include miniature 17th century Japanese ivory sculptures, known Netsuke. The most expensive of these, with a bid over $75,000, is a rare ivory netsuke of a recumbent boar carved by Masanao of Kyoto, who “was active about the middle of the 18th century and widely regarded as the most innovative genius of all netsuke carvers,” according to the web site of the auction.

Another sought-after item is a framed patch that was on board the Apollo 13 spacecraft during its flight around the moon in 1970. That’s going for nearly $1,500. All told, there’s over $150,000 worth of stuff being auctioned. Why a bank with only two branches would have these things, we don’t know, but would love to find out.

Bank of Lincolnwood, which was led by Clyde Engle, was closed last year by the FDIC. Republic Bank of Chicago assumed its deposits and assets, which totaled more than $200 million. Apparently, the buyer didn't want the Netsuke.


A Private Bank for Aging BSDs

Forget about stashing your cash with Bank of America, JPMorgan or Citigroup. The real grandfathers of finance take their dough to Fieldpoint Private Bank & Trust. The Greenwich institution was founded by some ex-Merrill Lynch execs, including Dan Tully and David Komansky, in 2008 as a place where senior BSD's can get the top notch service they deserve.

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.