This article originally was published on March 3.

Don't expect to get the full picture of the banking sector's financial health from the upcoming government " stress tests."

Banks earned $16.1 billion in 2008, the lowest level in 18 years, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. quarterly banking profile released Feb. 27. But that number would be much worse if it had included Wachovia, which was acquired by Wells Fargo ( WFC) on Dec. 31 and is not reflected in the results, says Chris Whelan of Institutional Risk Analytics. Somehow the fourth quarter only includes one day of operations for Wachovia and logs in only a $200,000 loss.

"The FDIC seems to playing the same games with loss disclosure and stress scenarios as is the Geithner Treasury and Fed with respect to the large bank stress tests," Whelan writes in a newsletter Monday.

Whelan doesn't stop there. He thinks that the operating losses of Washington Mutual are also not reflected due to the same accounting tricks. JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) closed its acquisition of WaMu on Sept. 25. WaMu reported a loss of $3.2 billion in the second quarter, but managed to avoid reporting a third-quarter loss and so did not get included in the full-year numbers.

Forget the FDIC's $16.1 billion in profits figure. By Whelan's calculations, the full-year results for the banking industry are really closer to a loss of $8 billion.

Regulators including the FDIC have said they will complete their bank stress test in April. However, using data provided by the FDIC, Whelan has delivered his own results, which he published on March 1. Using that data he determined that unsurprisingly Citigroup ( C) was in the worst shape, giving it a grade of "F". Bank of America ( BAC)comes in at number two, but still gets a grade of "A," since the lead unit of the bank has a lower stress level.

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