Savings and loans in an eight-state region, including Utah, suffered a $94 million net outflow of deposits in January - a dramatic reversal from the $92 million inflow of funds the month before.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle said the December-to-January flip-flop of funds also occurred for the same months a year ago and appears be an unexplainable characteristic of this region."That's just the way the tide flows in this area," she said.
The region regulated by the FHLB in Seattle includes Utah, Hawaii and seven other states in the northwest. Deposit figures for Utah alone were not available.
Utah institutions blame the recent flight of funds on news reports about the troubles with local and national S&Ls. And local S&Ls anticipate another net outflow of deposits in February. "We will lose about $6 million (in deposits) for the first couple months of the year," said Peter K. Ringger, chief financial officer of Williamsburg Savings Bank.
In addition to publicity contributing to the decrease in deposits, federal officials have attributed the trend to higher rates being offered in money market funds and other deposit instruments, and the FHLB's efforts to reduce the size of insolvent thrifts.
FHLB chairman Danny Wall told Congress this week that net withdrawals nationwide totaled $12 million for January and February. For December, the deposit inflow experienced in the eight-state region including Utah bucked the national trend which suffered an $8 billion net outflow of funds that month.
But continuing deposit decreases nationally could increase the cost of President Bush's $100 billion industry bailout proposal funded in large part by taxpayers, national reports said. The 10-year Bush plan assumes deposit growth of 7 percent annually.
As part of Bush's plan to clean up the S&L debacle, 37 more insolvent S&Ls were taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., bringing the total to 73 across the country. Of those put under the FDIC on Thursday, 12 were in Texas, 10 in Kansas, eight in Arkansas, four in Louisiana, two in Alaska and one in Maryland.
In Utah, American Savings, Deseret Federal Savings and MountainWest Savings have been placed under FDIC control. Sandia Federal Savings, based in New Mexico with offices throughout Utah, is also being operating under the federal government's joint regulatory oversight program.
The FDIC stresses that the institutions are open for business and all deposit accounts are insured up to the $100,000.
The goal of the takeovers is to stem losses at the institutions and root out any undiscovered fraud until Congress approves funding for the S&L bailout.