State and federal regulators Friday closed three failing banks and one savings and loan, bringing the total number of failed U.S. banking institutions during 2009 to 29.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. estimated the combined cost to its insurance fund from the four bank and thrift failures was $698 million.

Please see TheStreet.com's Bank Failure Map for an interactive summary of all previous bank and thrift failures during 2008 and 2009.

The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance took over American Southern Bank of Kennesaw, Ga. and appointed the FDIC receiver. The FDIC arranged for Bank of North Georgia to assume all of the failed bank's retail deposits. Bank of North Georgia is a subsidiary of Synovus Financial Corp. ( SNV).

The Office of Thrift Supervision closed First Bank of Idaho of Ketchum, Idaho. The FDIC was appointed receiver and sold the failed thrift's retail deposits to U.S. Bank (held by U.S. Bancorp ( USB)).

Next, the California Department of Financial Institutions took over First Bank of Beverly Hills of Calabasas, Calif. and placed it in FDIC receivership. With no buyer lined up for the failed bank, the FDIC made arrangements for a payout of all insured deposits.

Lastly, the Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation shuttered Michigan Heritage Bank of Farmington Hills, Mich. The FDIC was appointed receiver, and sold all of Michigan Heritage Bank's retail deposits to Level One Bank, also headquartered in Farmington Hills. Michigan Heritage Bank was a subsidiary of Michigan Heritage Bancorp ( MHBC).

Georgia Leads in Bank Failures

American Southern Bank was the fifth Georgia bank to fail during 2009. Of the 54 bank and thrift failures during 2008 and 2009, Georgia had 10, the largest number for a single state. California is No. 2, with nine failures, followed by Florida, Illinois and Nevada, each of which has had four bank or thrift failures.

American Southern Bank

American Southern Bank had total assets of approximately $112 million and total deposits of $104 million. Bank of North Georgia paid the FDIC a small premium to take over all of the failed bank's retail deposits and branches.

American Southern Bank's office was set to reopen Monday as a branch of Bank of North Georgia.

American Southern Bank also had $48.7 million in brokered deposits, which the FDIC was to pay directly to brokers. This process of returning brokered deposits to customers usually takes a few weeks. Brokers are required to complete paperwork for the FDIC receivership, because brokered deposit accounts are usually kept at a bank only in the broker's name.

Bank of North Georgia also took over about $31 million of the failed bank's assets. The FDIC retained the rest for later disposition and estimated the cost to its insurance fund would be $41.9 million.

TheStreet.com Ratings had assigned American Southern Bank an E-minus (Very Weak) financial strength rating in March, downgrading the institution from an E-plus, which was assigned in September. The failed bank was recently included in TheStreet.com's list of Georgia banks with the weakest asset quality.

Like most of the other failed Georgia banks and thrifts, American Southern Bank had made outsized bets on construction and development loans in the Atlanta area during the real estate boom.

First Bank of Idaho

First Bank of Idaho had total assets of about $489 million and total deposits of $374 million.

In its press release announcing the closing of First Bank of Idaho, the OTS said the thrift "was in unsound condition and unable to continue operating due to severe liquidity strains, deteriorating asset quality, negative earnings and declining capital."

TheStreet.com Ratings had assigned First Bank of Idaho a D-minus (Weak) financial strength rating in March, downgrading the institution from D-plus, which was assigned in December. The institution was still considered well capitalized per ordinary regulatory capital guidelines as of Dec. 31, and its net loss of $2.7 million for 2008 was relatively small for a thrift of its size.

The FDIC sold all of First Bank of Idaho's retail deposits to U.S. Bank for a small premium, and the failed institution's seven offices were scheduled to reopen as U.S. Bank branches Monday.

Once again, brokered deposits were not acquired. These totaled about $113 million and were to be paid directly to the brokers.

U.S. Bank only took on $18 million of First Bank of Idaho's assets, with the FDIC retaining the rest and estimating the cost to its insurance fund to be $191.2 million.

This marks the third failed institution with deposits and branches acquired by U.S. Bancorp. Other large bank holding companies making similar acquisitions of failed banks or thrifts during 2008 and 2009 have included Zions Bancorp ( ZION), SunTrust Banks ( STI) and Regions Financial ( RF).

First Bank of Beverly Hills

First Bank of Beverly Hills had total assets of approximately $1.5 billion and deposits of $1 billion.

In a press release announcing its takeover of the institution, the California Department of Financial Institutions said it had been "closely monitoring the bank and had ordered it to increase its capital reserves to a safe and sound level. But efforts by the bank to do so were unsuccessful."

TheStreet.com Ratings had assigned First Bank of Beverly Hills an E-minus (Very Weak) financial strength rating in March, a downgrade from the D (Weak) rating that was assigned in September.

The bank was included in TheStreet.com's list of undercapitalized banks and thrifts since a fourth-quarter net loss of $83 million left it with tier 1-leverage and total risk-based capital ratios of 3.37% and 6.45%, respectively. These ratios need to be at least 5% and 10%, respectively, for a bank to be considered well capitalized under ordinary circumstances.

Most of the net losses sprang from charge-offs of nonperforming residential and commercial construction loans.

Since the agency didn't line up a buyer for the failed institution, the FDIC arranged to pay out all of the its deposits. Checks were to be mailed to retail depositors Monday, except for an estimated $179,000 in uninsured deposits. Brokered deposits were to be directly to the brokers.

The FDIC estimated the cost to its insurance fund would be $394 million.

Michigan Heritage Bank

Michigan Heritage Bank had approximately $195 million in total assets and $152 million in deposits.

While Michigan regulators didn't provide details in their press release announcing the institutions failure, the institution was also included in TheStreet.com's list of undercapitalized banks and thrifts since it was critically undercapitalized as of Dec. 31, with a tier 1-leverage ratio of 1.61% and a risk-based capital ratio of 3.18%.

TheStreet.com Ratings had assigned Michigan Heritage Bank an E-minus (Very Weak) financial strength rating in December, a downgrade from an E rating assigned in September. The institution's capital was wiped out because of loan charge-offs across its diversified portfolio.

The FDIC sold Michigan Heritage's retail deposits to Level One Bank, and the failed bank's three offices were set to reopen as Level One branches on Monday.

Once again, brokered deposits were not acquired, and were to be paid directly to brokers.

Level One Bank took on $46 million of the failed bank's assets, with the FDIC retaining the rest for later disposition. The agency estimated the cost to its insurance fund would be $71.3 million.

Free, Conservative Bank Financial Strength Ratings

On a Friday that saw the FDIC's insurance fund incur costs of nearly $700 million, most depositors made out rather well, as only one of the four failed institutions had uninsured deposits and these totaled only $179,000. But then again, to the depositors losing that money, it probably didn't seem like such a small amount.

Losses on uninsured deposit balances are much more likely when the FDIC is unable to find a buyer for a failed institution. This scenario has become more common, with the agency failing to line up a buyer for four failed banks since March 20.

This week's four failures also foisted great inconvenience on customers who made deposits through brokers. These depositors will probably wait several weeks to receive their money, since the brokers must provide information to the FDIC and then receive payouts from the agency. The depositors will then need to shop for new parking places for the cash, probably at much lower rates than the ones they'd locked in.

The FDIC has temporarily increased the basic individual deposit insurance limit to $250,000 on non-retirement balances and has waived insurance limits on non-interest-bearing checking accounts, but the waiver is set to expire at the end of the year, with most other balances reverting to their usual $100,000 limit.

Another thing to consider is that even if your personal deposits are under FDIC insurance limits, you or someone you know are probably associated with a business, organization or government entity (such as a school district) with large deposits of somebody else's money of in a local bank. In this environment, it is a very good idea to look into the health of your bank.

TheStreet.com Ratings issues independent and very conservative financial strength ratings on each of the nation's 8,500 banks and savings and loans. They 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.

RealMoney Barometer Poll
1 What would best describe your stance heading into the coming week of trading?
Bullish
Bearish
Neutral
2 Which of these sectors do you think is set to move up in the coming week?
3 Which of these sectors do you think is set to move down in the coming week?

View the results without voting

Philip W. van Doorn joined TheStreet.com 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.

More from Stocks

China Trade War, Google, JD.com, Tesla, Brooks Koepka - 5 Things You Must Know

China Trade War, Google, JD.com, Tesla, Brooks Koepka - 5 Things You Must Know

Dow Futures Tank as Trade War Fears Grip Wall Street

Dow Futures Tank as Trade War Fears Grip Wall Street

Why GE's Stock Has Fallen 9% in the Last 30 Days

Why GE's Stock Has Fallen 9% in the Last 30 Days

5 Stock Picks Under $10 for Millennials

5 Stock Picks Under $10 for Millennials

3 Complicated Investing Strategies Millennials Love

3 Complicated Investing Strategies Millennials Love