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Banks Shuttered In Fla., Ill., Md., Utah

The failure of Sun American Bank is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund $103.8 million. The cost of resolving Bank of Illinois is estimated at $53.7 million; that of Waterfield Bank is $51 million; and Centennial Bank is $96.3 million.

The pace of bank seizures this year is likely to accelerate in coming months, FDIC officials have said.

As the economy has weakened, with unemployment rising, home prices tumbling and loan defaults soaring, bank failures have mounted, sapping billions of dollars out of the deposit insurance fund. It fell into the red last year, hitting a $20.9 billion deficit as of Dec. 31.

Banks, meanwhile, have tightened their lending standards. U.S. bank lending last year posted its steepest drop since World War II, as the volume of loans fell $587.3 billion, or 7.5 percent, from 2008, the FDIC reported recently.

President Barack Obama recently promoted a $30 billion plan to provide money to community banks if they boost lending to small businesses. The program, which must be approved by Congress, would use money repaid by banks to the $700 billion federal bailout fund.

But many lawmakers want the $30 billion sent directly to the federal Small Business Administration. It would then decide which businesses should get loans.

The number of banks on the FDIC's confidential "problem" list jumped to 702 in the fourth quarter from 552 three months earlier, even as the industry squeezed out a small profit. Banks earned $914 million, compared with a $37.8 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2008, at the height of the financial crisis. Still, nearly one in every three banks reported a net loss for the latest quarter.

The 140 bank failures last year were the highest annual tally since 1992, at the height of the savings and loan crisis. They cost the insurance fund more than $30 billion. There were 25 bank failures in 2008 and just three in 2007.

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