Banks Are Failing – How Do You Protect Yourself ?

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Sep 29, 2008
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The thought of this only several short years ago was not in anyone’s mind. Today from the UK to the States and beyond this fear is forefront in so many people. We have seen so far this year 13 bank failures, scared savers rushed to withdraw their deposits. Each bank failure seems bigger. First there was Indy Mac and then last weeks Washington Mutual.

The largest bank failure yet!

While that number is still well below the number of financial institutions that went Bankrupt during the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s, people are scared. To make matters worse approximately 117 banks are on the FDIC watch list currently. (You can check your banks ratings at and As well you can go to the FDIC's Web site, and research your bank. )

What really happens when a bank fails?

If another bank buys the bank, as was what transpired with J.P. Morgan Chase and their purchase of Washington Mutual, then it is business as usual. Customers of the failed bank can continue to carry on to write checks and withdraw their money usually without any interruption in service.

The issue arises when there is no buyer. This necessitates that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp to come in and take over the financial institution. In the best scenario the FDIC will start mailing out checks to customers for their insured deposits within 48 hours. Those with amounts over the FDIC's limits of $100,000 per person, per insured institution, will receive payments as the assets of the bank are sold. Some won't get all their money back. If you have over the $100,000 there are steps you can do to protect yourself such as opening various joint accounts, retirement accounts and revocable trusts.

If you have a tremendous amount of money this too can be covered. You could deposit your money with a bank that participates in the Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service, or CDARS. The deposit-placement service disperses the funds in individual CDs under $100,000 in member banks.

In theory this sounds fine as long as you do not have more than $100,000 per account, BUT the fact is that FDIC started the year with approx $53 billion dollars in the pool. Due to the insolvency so far this year this number is down and is in the $40 billion dollar range with only 13 bank failures so far.

Do the math!

There are approximately 117 banks on watch… How many of these need to fail in order that the pool of FDIC money is diminished.

If the cost of future bank failures exceeds the assets that the FDIC is holding, they have the option to draw on other resources to protect depositors. As well, the FDIC is looking at raising the rates that it charges the banks it insures as a way to bring in additional funds. The FDIC can also draw on lines of credit with the Treasury Department. This occurred in early 1991.

The fact is no one has yet to lose money with the FDIC’s program, Hopefully this will continue in the coming years.

Andrew Abraham

My Investors Place - A social networking site for investors
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