Report: State banks in good shape
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Monday, May 11, 2009
The vast majority of Oklahoma’s depository financial institutions remain safe and sound, according to an updated economic analysis conducted by an Oklahoma State University professor of finance.
Gary Simpson, the principal investigator for the report, revised a study he originally released last September and expanded his focus to include savings banks and credit unions in addition to commercial banks that have home offices in the state.
This included 248 commercial banks, five savings banks and 78 credit unions.
Simpson looked at public documents available through the end of 2008 from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the National Credit Union Administration for each of the institutions included in his analysis. He looked at their capital positions; potential losses, particularly from loans; their securities portfolios; and profitability.
He concluded that about 95 percent of all financial institutions in the state are sound.
“Almost without exception, Oklahoma financial institutions are safe according to my analysis of the most current publicly available data,” said Simpson, who also is the Oklahoma Bankers Association chair of commercial bank management.
“Depositors in Oklahoma’s federally insured financial institutions do not have to worry about their money. First, deposits are insured up to $250,000, and second, the vast majority of Oklahoma’s financial institutions are financially sound. Oklahomans may want to check if their money is held in a federally insured institution.”
Simpson released his analysis just a few days after the government announced the results of its “stress test,” which found that 10 of the nation’s 19 largest banks need a total of about $75 billion in new capital.
No Oklahoma-based banks were included in the government’s stress test, which focused on U.S. financial companies with assets in excess of $100 billion.
Bank of America, which was part of the stress test, alone has $1.7 trillion in assets. By comparison, all of Oklahoma’s commercial banks, savings banks and credit unions combined have about $85 billion in assets, Simpson said.
“The magnitude of the problems ... in those big companies is almost beyond comprehension,” Simpson said.
His analysis of Oklahoma’s financial institutions used a different procedure than the government’s stress test in that he relied on public data, while federal officials had access to inside information that wasn’t publicly available, Simpson said.
As for why Oklahoma-based banks seem to have weathered the downturn better than others, Simpson said, “Our economy is just stronger than other parts of the country, so that’s helpful. The other thing I think is that what we went through 20 to 25 years ago in the 1980s,” referring to problems caused by bad energy loans.
“The bankers who were left were just very prudent, conservative and careful, and they have not made foolish mistakes to any large extent.”