How many banks are too big to fail?

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Week in review 042009 – 042509

According to Obama administration‘s stress test, the magic number is 19. Basically they are saying the US gov will do whatever necessary to keep the big ones afloat because they are systematically important. Or in laymen’s words, they are too big to fail. Sorry, those smaller ones, I mean not so small regional banks such as Regions Financial, SunTrust, and Keycorp.

How many banks seized by FDIC this year so far?
29 (according to CNNMoney). But this is not the point, the point is many banks are taken over by stronger ones (such as First Idaho bank branches taken over by US bank), before the seizure of FDIC. As explained in CBS 60 minutes (video) couple weeks ago, FDIC will try to sell a bank asset and deposit (secretly) when it finds the bank cannot survive. If it cannot find a buyer, then it will take over. In this case, FDIC will not run a bank forever. Like in the case of IndyMac, it sold the operations to private investors after certain period. So, the right question is, how many banks failed this year? I guess only FDIC and OTS (Office of Thrift Supervision) knows.

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