There's good news and bad news in the FDIC's quarterly profile of the banking sector. The good news is that FDIC has more resources than you think to handle the problem banks on its radar. The bad news is that the too-big-to-fail banks aren't on it.
The balance in the FDIC's deposit insurance fund ended the quarter at $10.4 billion -- its lowest since the savings and loan debacle -- but it isn't the only security blanket protecting insured depositors. The agency also has a "contingent loss reserve."
If you add the loss reserve to the deposit insurance fund balance, the FDIC's total resources were $42 billion at the end of the second quarter. Despite 24 bank failures during the quarter, that total actually increased by half a billion dollars.
How could that be? The biggest reason is that the FDIC is finally getting serious about charging premiums for the insurance it provides. Member banks were charged $9.1 billion to replenish the fund last quarter. That's up from $2.6 billion in the first quarter and $640 million a year ago.
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A similar amount may be raised this quarter if the agency charges banks another "special assessment." While that decision won't be made till next month, it looks likely. That's great news for taxpayers who would otherwise have to plug the hole if the FDIC runs out of money.