At least early in the financial crisis, the high rate of foreclosures seemed to be due more to households' overreaching than to predatory lending. A disproportionate number of those being foreclosed on were well-educated, well-off and relatively young people.
Congress opened the door five years ago for banks to enter the insurance and investment arenas, but the expected rush has yet to occur. That’s probably fine with critics, who feared that the return of universal banks would bring back Depression-like instability.
Initially, Basel II will affect only the world's largest banking organizations. Eventually, the impact will trickle down to others. Some regional and community bankers, for example, might find it more difficult to survive. Consumers, on the other hand, could wind up with lower rates on home mortgages.
Banks that focus on traditional activities such as loan-making and deposit-taking are losing ground to those that offer new, complex services, such as securitizing consumer loans and brokering swap agreements for business customers. This shift in the industry has implications for bankers, bank supervisors and customers.
These government-sponsored enterprises continue to make headlines because of their explosive growth and resulting heavyweight status within the nation's financial system. Critics fear what would happen if one of these giants were to fail—or even stumble. Supporters say that the risks are overblown and that the benefits to homeowners are underappreciated.
The cover story examines why small banks aren't usually thrown for a loop when the local economy has a rough ride.
The futures market is not a perfect crystal ball. In some cases, it accurately forecasts what spot prices will be in the future. But not always.
Easy access to FHLB funds has helped community banks stay afloat in today's competitive markets, but could pose a risk to the FDIC's insurance fund.