By MARCY GORDON (AP)
WASHINGTON — Regulators on Friday shut down a small bank in Minnesota, bringing the number of U.S. bank failures this year to 73.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over Pinehurst Bank, based in St. Paul, Minn., with $61.2 million in assets and $58.3 million in deposits. Coulee Bank, based in La Crosse, Wis., agreed to assume the assets and deposits of the failed bank.
The failure of Pinehurst Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund about $6 million.
With 73 closures so far this year, the pace of bank failures is more than double that of 2009, already a brisk year for shutdowns. By this time last year, regulators had closed 36 banks. The pace has accelerated as losses mount on loans made for commercial property and development.
The number of bank failures is expected to peak this year and to be slightly higher than the 140 that fell in 2009. That was the highest annual tally since 1992, at the height of the savings and loan crisis. The 2009 failures cost the insurance fund more than $30 billion. Twenty-five banks failed in 2008, the year the financial crisis struck with force, and only three succumbed in 2007.
As losses have mounted on loans made for commercial property and development, the growing bank failures have sapped billions of dollars out of the deposit insurance fund. It fell into the red last year, and its deficit stood at $20.7 billion as of March 31.
The number of banks on the FDIC's confidential "problem" list jumped to 775 in the first quarter from 702 three months earlier, even as the industry as a whole had its best quarter in two years.
A majority of institutions posted profit gains in the January-March quarter. But many small and midsized banks are likely to continue to suffer distress in the coming months and years, especially from soured loans for office buildings and development projects.
The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years.
The agency mandated last year that banks prepay about $45 billion in premiums, for 2010 through 2012, to replenish the insurance fund.
Depositors' money — insured up to $250,000 per account — is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government.