The 383 Safest Banks in America

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In America, we have let our guard down when it comes to our banking relationships. We assume that everything will be fine if our bank fails. After all, theFDIC insures our deposits up to $250,000. Why worry? 

I hate to break this to you, but the FDIC's Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) -- AKA the money used to cover bank failures -- has been all but drained. 

In 2007, the DIF had a healthy $52.4 billion. But since 2008 (after the housing meltdown), more than 413 banks have failed, and it's taken a devastating toll on the once-solid reserve fund.

The balance in the DIF at the end of the second quarter of 2012 was just $22.7 billion, according to the FDIC -- almost 57% below where it was before the financial crisis. And while the FDIC also reported that banks are on slightly better financial footing than last quarter, there are still a staggering 732 "problem banks" that are carryingtroubled assets totaling $282 billion. By comparison, the FDIC identified just 76 problem banks by the end of 2007.

I don't know about you, but I'm not willing to assume that the FDIC will always be there to cover my savings. Instead, I want to pick the safest bank in my area, so that I know the FDIC will never have to get involved.

Each quarter, I use FDIC data to calculate a very special metric called the "Texas ratio ." It was developed by a financial wizard named Gerard Cassidy who used it to correctly predict bank failures in Texas during the 1980srecession , and again in New England in the recession of the early 1990s.

The Texas ratio is determined by analyzing a bank'snonperforming assets and its loan-loss reserves. While the ratio has been excellent at predicting bank failures, it can also be used to find the banks that are the furthest from failure. 

The math can get complicated, but here's what you need to know -- the closer the Texas ratio gets to zero, the lower the bank's risk of failure. Once the ratio gets above 1.0, things get a little shaky.

To illustrate, here's a list of the last 10 banks that were seized by FDIC. In every case, the Texas ratio is above 1.0.




10 Most Recently Failed Banks
Bank Name Headquartered In State Ratio
Truman Bank St. Louis MO 3.92
FirstCommercial Bank Bloomington MN 4.64
Waukegan Savings Bank Waukegan IL 4.95
Jasper Banking Company Jasper GA 8.14
Second FSL Association of Chicago Chicago IL 9.00
First Cherokee State Bank Woodstock GA 7.04
Georgia Trust Bank Buford GA 5.97
The Royal Palm Bank of Florida Naples FL 2.95
Heartland Bank Leawod KS 1.49
Glasgow Savings Bank Glasgow MO 2.01

And out of the five largest banks in the United States, none have a perfect score, but Chase and Citibank come closest to the mark.




5 Largest Banks In The United States
Bank Name Headquartered In State Ratio
Bank of America Charlotte NC 0.22
Chase Bank Newark DE 0.07
Citibank Sioux Falls SD 0.07
Wells Fargo Bank Sioux Falls SD 0.30
U.S. Bank Cincinnati OH 0.18

Right now there are more than 7,300 banks in the United States, but only 383 of them can boast a perfect Texas ratio of 0.0 .

Click here to see the entire list .



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Basics

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