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Staffing Down, Delinquency Up at Banks

Earnings increase 9% between Q2 and Q3

Dec. 4, 2012

By staff

The country's banks have trimmed headcount, while quarterly delinquency turned higher. But earnings have continued to strengthen as fewer banks succumbed to the Great Recession. Over the past five years, the number of federally insured banks has fallen by nearly 16 percent.

Banks owned $1.8899 trillion in residential loans as of Sept. 30, growing their holdings from $1.8754 trillion as of the end of June. At the same point in 2011, residential assets totaled $1.8567 trillion.

Delinquency of at least 90 days on the collective residential portfolio was 11.87 percent, worse than 11.61 percent as of June 30 and 11.62 percent at the same point last year. The most recent figure reflected a 30-to-89-day rate of 2.24 percent and a 9.63 percent 90-day rate.

The statistics were detailed in the Quarterly Banking Profile from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Home-equity lines-of-credit on banks' balance sheets were reduced to $0.5673 trillion from $0.5802 trillion as of June 30. As of Sept. 30, 2011, HELOC assets amounted to $0.6083 trillion.

HELOC 30-day delinquency rose to 3.85 percent from the prior quarter's 3.53 percent and 2.85 percent at the same point in 2011. The latest number reflected an 0.97 percent rate for lines of credit between 30 and 89 days past due and a 2.88 percent 90-day rate.

In addition, Sept. 30 assets included $1.0580 trillion in non-farm residential loans and $0.2104 trillion in construction-and-development loans.

Quarterly net income of $37.6 billion was the highest it's been in six years.

Earnings were helped by reduced loan-loss expenses and increased non-interest income.

Banks earned $34.5 billion in the second quarter and $35.2 billion in the same period last year.

"This was another quarter of gradual but steady recovery for FDIC-insured institutions," FDIC Chairman Martin J. Gruenberg said in a statement. "Signs of further progress were evident in a number of indicators, such as loan growth, asset quality and profitability."

The statistics were based on 7,181 reporting institutions as of Sept. 30, fewer than 7,245 banks that reported in the prior profile. The sector has contracted considerably since 2007, when there were 8,534 reporting institutions. The latest number reflected 6,168 commercial banks and 1,013 savings institutions.

During the third quarter, 706 banks were classified as having a concentration in mortgage lending.

Problem institutions accounted for 694 of all banks, down from 732 in the prior period to the lowest level since the third-quarter 2009.

No new banking charters were added during the latest period. It was the fifth consecutive quarter with no new charters.

The 12 bank failures during the third quarter were the fewest since the fourth-quarter 2008. During the prior quarter, 15 banks failed, while the count was 26 in the third-quarter 2011.

Banks employed 2,105,833 people as of the third quarter, off from 2,108,185 three months earlier and 2,109,352 a year earlier.

American Bankers Association Chief Economist James Chessen weighed in on the results and what's ahead for the nation's banking system.

"The third quarter was another strong one for the banking industry, with solid earnings, higher capital levels, lower losses and stable asset quality signifying an industry that continues to gain strength," Chessen said in a statement. "At the same time, continuing uncertainty surrounding the fiscal cliff is already slowing economic activity and businesses are hesitant to borrow.

"Decisions made in the month ahead will have a profound impact on our economic path and the outlook for all businesses -- banks included."

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