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U.S. banking officials see recovery

Dec. 25, 2012 at 1:03 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Officials at U.S. banks said the industry is recovering, with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s "problem list" shrinking to fewer than 700 banks.

Industry leaders said the list shrank to fewer than 700 banks for the first time in three years, and only about half the number of bank failures recorded in 2011 are expected for 2012, The Washington Times reported Tuesday.

David Stevens, president and chief executive officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said the lenders that caused the most damage in the lead-up to the 2008 global financial crisis have been forced out of the market, allowing the industry to recover.

However, he said officials in Washington do not fully appreciate the recovery.

"I bristle when I hear these polarizing extremes: 'The banks are all bad, let's hang them from the highest rafters,'" Stevens said.

Dick Bove, a bank analyst with Rafferty Capital Markets, said banks are strengthening as the economy recovers.

"Everyone has done nothing but beat on the banks for the havoc they caused," he said. "It's not very well understood that banks in the United States are extraordinarily profitable right now and have been growing for the last few years."

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