Louisiana banks are being spared the problems bedeviling the country’s largest institutions and, in many cases, are performing better than their peers in other states, the state’s top banking regulator says. “The best word would be sound,” Commissioner of Financial Institutions John Ducrest said. “Compared to some other parts of the country, our banks are in good shape.”
Only 6% of Louisiana banks posted an annual loss in 2008, compared to about 24% nationwide, Ducrest said. He would not say if he believed all of the state’s 160 banks and thrifts would survive the current recession. But he said public fears are heightened unnecessarily by the high-profile cases of such banks as Citigroup and Bank of America and the collapse last year of Washington Mutual.
“There’s about 8,500 banks across the country,” Ducrest said. “When you look at the FDIC problem bank list, they had 252 at the end of the year. The problem is the largest of the large banks are having significant problems, and those banks are dominating the press.” Ducrest said that in 2008, banks in 37 of the 50 states, including Louisiana, experienced overall loan growth, despite the financial meltdown that froze credit late in the year.