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September/October 2010, 
Vol. 92, No. 5
Posted 2010-09-01

The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of U.S. Bank Failures, 2007-2010: Do Bank Failures Still Reflect Local Economic Conditions?

by Craig P. Aubuchon and David C. Wheelock

The financial crisis and recession that began in 2007 brought a sharp increase in the number of bank failures in the United States. This article investigates characteristics of banks that failed and regional patterns in bank failure rates during 2007-10. The article compares the recent experience with that of 1987-92, when the United States last experienced a high number of bank failures. As during the 1987-92 and prior episodes, bank failures during 2007-10 were concentrated in regions of the country that experienced the most serious distress in real estate markets and the largest declines in economic activity. Although most legal restrictions on branch banking were eliminated in the 1990s, the authors find that many banks continue to operate in a small number of markets and are vulnerable to localized economic shocks.