Wednesday, August 22, 2007

OTS "Kept Up At Night"

by Tanta on 8/22/2007 08:27:00 AM

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The number of troubled assets among federally regulated thrifts rose rose 49% in the second quarter from 12 months before to the highest level since the savings and loan crisis, the Office of Thrift Supervision reported Tuesday.

The agency also reported that the number of "problem thrifts," or companies rated poorly by regulatory standards, had risen to 10, up from just 4 in the second quarter of 2006.

Still, the regulator said that although the 836 thrifts it regulates are continuing to feel stress from housing and liquidity markets, the overall health of the companies remains strong, based on earnings and capital.

Thrifts are federally regulated banks that originate one out of every four mortgages. The companies largely originate prime or jumbo loans, so their stressed loan portfolios suggest that more loan types - not just subprime mortgages - are under pressure.

The thrift industry had $14.2 billion in troubled loans, which are either noncurrent loans or repossessed assets, the OTS said. That's up from $9.5 billion in the second quarter of 2006. This is the highest level of troubled assets since 1993, though as a percentage of total assets its only the highest level since 1997. Noncurrent loans include mortgage delinquencies, which have grown precipitously as the adjustable-rate mortgages that were very popular during the recent housing boom reset into much higher monthly commitments.

"This is what is keeping us as regulators up at night," James Caton, director of financial monitoring and analysis, said at a press briefing to discuss the data.