Bailout raises FDIC coverage to $250K

Published 12:28 am Saturday, October 4, 2008

The $700 billion government bailout bill approved by Congress and signed by the president Friday includes a increase in the FDIC coverage for bank accounts that underscores what local bankers have been telling their customers all week: don’t panic; money is safe in the bank.

“We’ve gotten a lot of questions about FDIC,” CCB Community Bank’s Wem Mellown said before the bailout was approved. “We’ve had some people call us who were considering taking cash out. There’s no need to do that.”

At present, bank deposits are FDIC-insured up to $100,000. The bill passed Friday increases the coverage from $100,000 to $250,000 per depositor per bank.

“We think this is a good thing,” said Buddy Wilkes of Southern Independent Bank.

The bailout gives the government broad authority to buy up toxic mortgage-related investments and other distressed assets from tottering financial institutions, and is designed to ease a credit crunch that began on Wall Street but is engulfing businesses around the nation.

CCB’s Allen Mims said community banks really aren’t involved in the kinds of problems Congress is trying to help solve.

“Our deposits are here, our loans are here,” Mims said. “They aren’t sub-prime loans.”

Wilkes said SIB also has that advantage.

“We’re a new bank, and that helps us in that we’re not in sub-prime lending,” Wilkes said. “We’re well capitalized, most of our money is invested locally, and we feel very good about what’s going on at the local level.”

Dan Bailey, CEO of the Alabama Bankers Association, said earlier this week that the Alabama banking industry is well prepared to ride out the economic storm.

“Our citizens should know that their deposits are safe. No customer has ever lost a penny of federally insured deposits.”