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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

October 5, 2009 at 11:35 AM

The hidden banking crisis continues despite the big bailouts

Top of the News: One of the sick contradictions of the crash has been that the giant banks that posed a threat to the global economy through their greed and bad bets were bailed out by the taxpayers. Now they’re even larger, and politically potent enough to fend off regulation of some of the very practices that brought on the late unpleasantness.

Meanwhile, community banks and smaller institutions received some rescue money, but for many of them the troubles continue. It’s a hidden, ongoing banking crisis. Evidence close to home is Frontier Financial, an Everett institution whose deal to be acquired just fell through.

While Frontier Bank remains open and its depositors are protected, 98 banks have failed so far this year, most of them small institutions. For the shareholders of these failed banks, there’s no protection. In many cases, these failures have been disproportionately painful in smaller communities. The capital markets remain far from healthy, despite the rebound among the big dogs in New York, San Francisco and Charlotte.

The Back Story: The National Governors Association has a new assessment of the green economies and practices of the states. Washington’s emerging green economy is called “diverse and widespread.”

Washington attracted $306 million in “cleantech” venture capital in 2008, vs. about $25 million in 2005. Green tech patents are down compared with the early 2000s, but still high relative to most states. “Washington’s Energy Infrastructure is more than six times more concentrated than the U.S. average, and Transportation is 2.3 times as concentrated,” the report states.

You know all this. But the report will further spread the word of the state’s capabilities to investors and entrepreneurs nationwide.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

If losses don’t slow

A pink slip might be given

Out at the White House

Comments | More in Banking, Sustainability

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