FDIC says it had surplus in '92 its first in 5 years


WASHINGTON -- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. made more money than it spent last year, for its first surplus in five years.

Unofficial figures show that deposit insurance premiums were about $6 billion, while bank failures cost the agency about $5 billion. The annual surplus -- of $1 billion -- is expected to rise to about $1.5 billion this year.

In a year when banks earned record profits, the FDIC reduced its problem-bank list by 25 percent, to 863. Only 120 banks, with $46 billion in assets, failed last year -- about half what the agency predicted.

This year, 30 to 60 banks, with $25 billion to $40 billion in assets, are expected to fail.

But as long as the total Bank Insurance Fund remains in the red,premiums will not come down.

Acting FDIC Chairman Andrew C. Hove said last week that when the agency's 1992 financial statements are completed, the insurance fund will still be under water. At the end of 1991, the fund had a deficit of $7 billion.

The FDIC, in fact, has plenty of money, but because it is required to keep a reserve fund of about $15 billion for future bank failures, the fund reports a net deficit.

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