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Last Friday, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation shuttered Waukegan, Illinois-based Waukegan Savings Bank, taking the number of failed U.S. banks thus far in 2012 to 40. This follows 92 bank failures in 2011, 157 in 2010, 140 in 2009 and 25 in 2008.

The failed bank had total assets of $88.9 million and total deposits of $77.5 million as of March 31, 2012.

While the financials of a few large banks are stabilizing on the back of an economic recovery and increasing dependence on noninterest revenue sources, the industry is still on shaky ground. The sector presents a picture similar to that of 2011, with nagging issues like depressed home prices, still-high loan defaults and unemployment levels troubling such institutions.

The lingering economic uncertainty and its effects also weigh on many banks. The need to absorb bad loans offered during the credit explosion has made these banks susceptible to severe problems.
 
The Acquirer

Itasca, Illinois-based First Midwest Bank has agreed to assume all the deposits and assets of Waukegan Savings Bank.

Impact on FDIC Fund

This bank failure represents a further dent in the deposit insurance fund (DIF), meant for protecting customer accounts.

The FDIC insures deposits in 7,309 banks and savings associations in the country as well as promotes their safety and soundness. When a bank fails, the agency reimburses customer deposits of up to $250,000 per account.

Though the FDIC has managed to shore up its deposit insurance fund over the last few quarters, the long spate of bank failures have kept it under pressure. However, as of March 31, 2012, the fund was in surplus for the fourth straight quarter.

Also, the balance increased to $15.3 billion as of March 31, 2012 from $11.8 billion at the end of 2011. The continued improvement in the net worth of the fund is attributable to an abating pace of bank failures and rising assessment revenue.

The failure of Waukegan Savings Bank will cost the FDIC about $19.8 million. From 2012 through 2016, bank failures are estimated to cost the FDIC about $12 billion.

Shrinking Problem Bank List

The number of banks on FDIC’s list of problem institutions saw a sharp decline for the fourth straight quarter to 772 in the January-March period from 813 in the preceding sequential period.

Increasing loan losses on commercial real estate could trigger many more bank failures in the upcoming years. However, considering the moderate pace of bank failures, the 2012 number is not expected to exceed the 2011 tally.

Consolidation to Continue

With so many bank failures, consolidation has become the industry trend. For most of the failed banks, the FDIC enters into a purchase agreement with healthy institutions.

When Washington Mutual collapsed in 2008 (the largest bank failure in the U.S. history), it was acquired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM - Analyst Report). Other major acquirers of failed institutions since 2008 include U.S. Bancorp (USB - Analyst Report) and BB&T Corporation (BBT - Analyst Report).

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