Regulators close small Fla bank; 2011 total is 71

WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators on Friday closed a small bank in Florida, raising to 71 the number of U.S. bank failures this year.

The pace of closures has eased in 2011 as the economy has slowly improved and banks work their way through the bad debt accumulated in the recession. By this time last year, regulators had shuttered 119 banks.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized First National Bank of Florida, based in Milton, Fla. The bank had $296.8 million in assets and $280.1 million in deposits. CharterBank, based in West Point, Ga., agreed to assume the assets and deposits of the failed bank.

In addition, the FDIC and CharterBank agreed to share losses on $216.3 million of First National Bank of Florida's loans and other assets.

The failure of First National Bank of Florida is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $46.9 million.

Florida has been one of the hardest-hit states for bank failures. Regulators shuttered 29 lenders in Florida last year. First National Bank of Florida was the 11th bank to fail in the state this year.

California, Georgia and Illinois also have seen large numbers of bank failures.

In all of 2010, regulators seized 157 banks, the most in any year since the savings-and-loan crisis two decades ago. Those failures cost around $21 billion. The FDIC has said 2010 likely marked the peak for bank failures from the Great Recession.

In 2009, there were 140 bank failures that cost the insurance fund about $36 billion, a higher price tag than in 2010 because the banks involved were bigger on average. Twenty-five banks failed in 2008, the year the financial crisis struck with force; only three were closed in 2007.

From 2008 through 2010, bank failures cost the fund $76.8 billion. The deposit insurance fund fell into the red in 2009. With failures slowing, the FDIC's fund balance turned positive in the second quarter of this year; it stood at $3.9 billion as of June 30.

Depositors' money — insured up to $250,000 per account — is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government. That insurance cap was made permanent in the financial overhaul law enacted in July 2010.

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