Regulators closed

FirstBank Financial Services, Alliance Bank of Culver City and County Bank of Merced

on Friday, bringing the total number of 2009 bank and thrift failures to nine. There were 25 failures during 2008.

Not surprisingly, states at the center of the residential housing boom have produced the greatest number of failing institutions. Out of 34 bank and thrift failures since the beginning of 2008, eight were in California, six in Georgia and three in Florida.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. spokesman David Barr said the agency's estimated cumulative losses to its deposit insurance fund from bank and thrift failures during 2008 was $15.6 billion, which included $8.9 billion from the failure of

IndyMac Bank

in July. While a year-end figure was not yet available, the FDIC's deposit insurance fund totaled $34.6 billion as of Sept. 30.

The following is a list of all the bank and thrift failures during 2008 and 2009:

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Deposit Risk and Ratings

In January there were depositors with uninsured balances who lost money when banks failed. Depositors remain exposed to risk, and the FDIC's temporary increases on deposit insurance limits are set to expire at the end of 2009.

Customers with insured deposits in brokered CDs were also inconvenienced, since their deposits were not acquired. When a bank or savings and loan with brokered deposits fails, the FDIC relies on the brokers to complete paperwork listing their customers and deposit amounts. Since brokered CDs are registered with a bank or S&L only in the name of the broker, the FDIC needs the brokers to provide detailed customer account information when an institution fails. The FDIC then cross-checks the information with other broker lists and the bank's retail deposits to make sure that a customer's total deposits with the failed institution don't exceed insurance limits. This process takes time, meaning it can take customers with brokered deposits a few weeks to get their money back.

If your insured CD deposit is not acquired, you also may be looking at a much lower rate if you locked in a good one a few months back.

Lastly, it's quite possible that your or someone you know are associated with a school district or other municipal entity with large amounts of somebody else's money on deposit with a local community bank. Ratings issues independent and very conservative financial strength ratings on each of the nation's 8,500 banks and savings and loans. These are available at no charge on the

Banks & Thrifts Screener

. In addition, the Financial Strength Ratings for 4,000 life, health, annuity, and property/casualty insurers are available on the Insurers & HMOs Screener.

Philip W. van Doorn joined Ratings., Inc., in February 2007. He is the senior analyst responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. He also comments on industry and regulatory trends. Mr. van Doorn has fifteen years experience, having served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Florida, and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Long Island University.