Through a glass darkly

The outlook for banks, thrifts and credit unions still reflects recession’s impact on the economy. It’s not a pretty picture.
By Frank Maley

More than a year and a half after the great financial meltdown of 2008, many North Carolina banks, thrifts and credit unions are still in hot water. The nationwide recession might be over, as far as some economists are concerned, but a multitude of financial insti- tutions are still bedeviled by sour loans, a dearth of creditworthy borrowers, an ailing real-estate market and high unemployment. Almost half — 46 — of the Financial 100, the largest banks, thrifts and credit unions based in North Carolina, posted a net loss last year, up from 31 the year before. Tar Heel banks, in the aggregate, are worse off than they were a year ago, according to Ray Grace, the state’s deputy commissioner of banks. “As deep and persistent as this recession has been, it would not be reasonable to expect otherwise. Banks are wed to the economy, and this has just been a dreadful slog.” Things likely will remain that way for the industry the rest of this year, he adds. “I’m an innately optimistic person. But for the last year and a half or two years, I’ve felt little reason to feel optimism.”