Myth: Banks are the safest place for your money

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Posted Jun 10

I hate to even go here because it sounds so crazy. 81 banks have failed so far this year (see Failed Banks). To put that number in perspective, it’s almost 1/3 of bank failures since 2000 according to But here’s the crazy part: Although the FDIC will tell us how many banks are on their watch list (775, last time I checked) they won’t tell us the names of those banks, for fear of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by freaking out depositors who will then take all their money out. The FDIC apparently would rather freak us out even more by secretly seizing our bank. Which we first find out about in the morning paper and all we can do then is spew coffee all over it.
What can we do now, though? Of indicators for bank weakness, the best is the “net charge-off rate”, which is the percent of a bank’s loans that the bank has given up on collecting. I can’t take credit for any of this. See the excellent article at Bank.
How do you figure that out? Enter [drum roll] The Texas Ratio! According to Andy Obermueller’s excellent article at the above link:
“The Texas ratio is determined by dividing the bank’s non-performing assets by its tangible common equity and loan-loss reserves. Tangible common is equity capital less goodwill and intangibles. As the ratio approaches 1.0, the bank’s risk of failure rises. Every bank that has failed in the second quarter has had a Texas ratio of greater than 0.90. In fact the average was about 5.0.”

So here’s what you’ve really been waiting to find out; the list of Oregon and Washington banks with risky “Texas” ratios (what’s up with Washington banks??):

Oregon Banks
1.91 Albina Community Bank Portland
1.62 MBank Gresham
1.23 Bank of the Cascades Bend
1.16 LibertyBank Eugene
1.02 Home Valley Bank Cave Junction
0.97 Pacific West Bank West Linn

Washington Banks
3.13 Washington First International Bank Seattle
2.58 HomeStreet Bank Seattle
2.58 Seattle Bank Seattle
2.47 North County Bank Arlington
2.33 First Sound Bank Seattle
2.13 Shoreline Bank Shoreline
1.98 Regal Financial Bank Seattle
1.78 AmericanWest Bank Spokane
1.72 The Cowlitz Bank Longview
1.56 Viking Bank Seattle
1.46 Sterling Savings Bank Spokane
1.33 The Bank of Washington Lynnwood
1.20 First Heritage Bank Snohomish
1.16 Mountain Pacific Bank Everett
1.12 Business Bank Burlington
1.07 Bank of Whitman Colfax
1.04 Prime Pacific Bank, National Assn Lynnwood
0.99 Eastside Commercial Bank Bellevue
0.90 Cascade Bank Everett