Let's see if we can possibly see another opportunity that now exists.
Take the commercial banking system. The FDIC reports there are 1,770 banking organizations in the United States as of March 31, 2014 that had assets of less than $100 million. The current number is 147 units lower than one year earlier. In March 31, 2013, the number was 188 units less than in 2012.
The number of commercial banks between $100 million in assets and $1.0 billion is assets has also been declining. On March 31, 2014 there were 3,496 in existence, down 101 units from a year earlier, and this number was down 40 units from the year before.
This shrinkage is not coming because these banks are failing. Early on in the Great Recession it was true that most of the decline in the number of banks came from institutions that were closed because of failure.
Now, the number of commercial banks that are failing outright is a relatively small number. I counted 25 banks closed by the FDIC between March 31, 2013, and March 31, 2014. Thirty-nine closed in the previous 12 months.
I have been arguing over the past four years that one of the justifications for the quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve has been the need to assist the FDIC. By supplying large amounts of liquidity to the banking system, the Federal Reserve helped to keep troubled banks open. That is, because of all the liquidity around, banks that had troubled assets or securities that were under-water could hold on because they were not in sufficiently desperate shape that the FDIC had to come in and close them.
The liquidity being supplied to the banking system was more than adequate to keep a lot of insolvent or troubled banks open so that the FDIC could close the banks without major disruptions to the whole system.
Remember, the number of commercial banks on the FDIC's official list of troubled banks was well over a thousand for a several years. Elizabeth Warren, before she became a Senator, testified before Congress that the number of banks facing serious difficulties was really in excess of 3,000.
In terms of smoothing out the difficulties in the banking system, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC did a remarkable job in keeping panic from setting in...in helping all these institutions exit the industry without causing more problems.
To me, though, the FDIC is still in the business of helping the banking industry shrink.
For one, there are still a lot of commercial banks that are open that are not in the best of shape. These banks can continue to "chug" along, but they tend to exist on extended life support.
Many banks are finding the costs of all the new banking regulations flowing from the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill not only onerous, but life-threatening.
Also, banking is becoming digitized. Money is nothing more that information and as information technology continues to evolve, money, finance, banking...all the above...are going mobile and going to the cloud. The smaller banks cannot compete.
Finally, a lot of the bank executives in these smaller banks are in their late fifties or early sixties with no real heir apparent. Many banks are still family banks where families want out.
The number of smaller banks will continue to decline by 200 or more a year. I believe that the regulators want this to happen. These banks will be acquired, with or without the assistance of the FDIC. However, FDIC will still see that these go smoothly.
My point: When acquisitions take place, the price of the stock of the company being acquired usually takes a pretty good bounce upwards once the acquisition is announced. Furthermore, the FDIC wants these transactions to take place without problems and will see that they do.
There might be an opportunity here to form some kind of fund that would acquire the stock of banking institutions that were facing some of the issues I have described above, and were potential takeover targets. Could be a real interesting possibility.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.