Survey: 46% of Midwest Bankers Say They are Interested in Participating in TARP Capital Purchase Program

46% also believe they will acquire bank branches, and 39% believe the U.S. Treasury will spend more than the allotted $700 Billion on bailouts
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SOUTHFIELD, Mich., January 23, 2009 – Not too surprisingly, a vast majority of bankers (88%) in the Midwest have a pessimistic (very or somewhat) outlook for the national economy in 2009 – but 40 percent believe the credit crisis will abate and credit markets will become less volatile in the second half of the year, while 45 percent believe that will happen sometime in 2010.

The Midwest numbers above are almost identical to national survey results from Grant Thornton LLP’s 16th Bank Executive Survey, completed with Bank Director magazine.

When it comes to causes of the economic crisis, bankers nationwide let their true feelings be known. From options shown in the chart below, each respondent could select up to three reasons. The ranking is in order of national results, with the numbers in (  ) being Midwest replies:

  • Lax underwriting standards    54% (49)
  • Political emphasis on increasing home ownership    46% (50)
  • Lack of oversight of the mortgage industry    44% (37)
  • Inadequate understanding of risks    40% (29)
  • Lack of oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac    39% (43)
  • Credit default swaps    18% (21)
  • Inappropriate or aggressive commissions for mortgage brokers    18% (27)
  • Interest rates kept low for too long    18% (15)
  • Use of the fair value accounting standard    15% (19)
  • Mortgage fraud    11% (9)
  • None of the above    1% (1)

Almost half (46.35) of Midwest bankers expressed an interest in participating in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) Capital Purchase Program (CPP) as a reaction to the credit crisis and subsequent consolidation in the financial services industry.

“While the government’s capital purchase program has generated a lot of interest in the banking industry, there still remains some uncertainty regarding restrictions that Congress may place on program participants retroactively,” said Todd Sprang, Grant Thornton’s Midwest Region Financial Institution practice leader. “Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has recently proposed legislation that would place restrictions on participant’s executive compensation and put limits on the payment of dividends. This may cause some banks to re-evaluate their interest in participating in the program.

“Many of the benefits associated with the current TARP CPP are difficult to quantify. The capital provided to the banks is expected to increase the stability of the financial system, and over time will undoubtedly allow the banks participating in the TARP CPP to originate or invest in loans at many multiples of the total capital received. It is difficult to ascertain which funds are used to fund new loans, pay operating expenses, pay dividends or fund new investments,” concluded Sprang.

Other survey highlights from the Midwest include:

  • Local business outlook for banking in their respective local communities – 38 percent of bankers are pessimistic, 14 percent are somewhat optimistic.
  • Local banks that will increase their share of deposits in local communities in 2009 – 43 percent said yes, 57 percent said no.
  • Local banks which have made significant changes to it capital plans – 25 percent said yes, 75 percent said no.

For a copy of the full survey, which will be available the week of April 20th, please contact Grant Thornton’s Office of Financial Services at 877.835.1723 or FinancialServices@gt.com.

About the survey
Grant Thornton’s Bank Executives Survey provides a snapshot of the banking world, presenting a compilation of opinions of industry leaders on the current state and future direction of the industry. In early November 2008, Bank Director magazine mailed questionnaires to a national sample of 3,000 chief executive officers and other senior officers of banks and savings institutions. A total of 339 completed questionnaires were returned for a response rate of 11.3 percent. There were 96 respondents from the Midwest, the highest response rate of the five sections of the country.

About Grant Thornton LLP
The people in the independent firms of Grant Thornton International Ltd provide personalized attention and the highest quality service to public and private clients in more than 100 countries. Grant Thornton LLP is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the six global audit, tax and advisory organizations. Grant Thornton International Ltd and its member firms are not a worldwide partnership, as each member firm is a separate and distinct legal entity.

In the U.S., visit Grant Thornton LLP at www.GrantThornton.com.

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