Friday, February 27, 2009

U.S. bank and thrift industry tallies its first losing quarter since 1990, FDIC reports

One in 6 Illinois banks recorded a loss in the fourth quarter, up from 1 in 11 a year earlier.

Still, the 570 banks as group earned $482 million in 2008. That's down from $2.56 billion in 2007.

The state's 85 thrifts fared worse, with 40 percent losing money, up from 27 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007. Collectively in 2008 the state's savings and loans lost $270 million, worse than the $80 million in losses they racked up the previous year.

Those are among findings released Thursday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which announced that the nation's bank and thrift industry lost $26.2 billion in the fourth quarter, the first quarterly loss since 1990.

More than two-thirds of all insured U.S. institutions were profitable in the fourth quarter, the U.S. regulator said, but their earnings were dwarfed by big losses at big banks.

All insured institutions eked out a $575 million combined profit in the fourth quarter of 2007.

The FDIC also said that the number of institutions nationally on its undisclosed "problem list" rose from 171 in the third quarter to 252 in the fourth quarter, the highest number since mid-1995.

Reasons for the industry losses included rising levels of money that banks have to set aside to cover loans that might go bad, as well as losses from investment activities.

Return on equity in the fourth quarter for Illinois' commercial banks in the report was 1.8 percent, down from 7.7 percent one year before.

Results generally were better at the smallest banks. The average return on equity of those with assets of less than $100 million dropped in the fourth quarter to 4.5 percent from 5.6 percent, while banks with assets of more than $100 million declined to 1.7 percent from 7.8 percent.

Return on assets also fell, particularly for the larger-bank group.

The percentage of Illinois institutions reporting profit gains for the fourth quarter was 43.7 percent. In the quarter one year earlier, 53 percent reported higher earnings. Again, results were more stable at institutions with assets of $100 million or less.

Equity capital of all commercial banks in the state fell in the fourth quarter to $26.79 billion from $40.43 billion one year before.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Located in the southern periphery of the Tenggeli desert, 195 kilometers from Bayanhot and 18 kilometers from Shapotou Tourist District of Zhongwei City in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the district is an exemplary spot for agriculture tourism and has four square kilometers of wet land, featuring green grass cushions, clean air and natural sceneries with main tourist items including karting, watching migratory birds, fishing, camel-riding for desert exploration, sand skating and many others.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Washington Learns

Washington Learns, created and led by Governor Chris Gregoire, conducted a top to bottom, 18-month review of Washington’s entire education system, its structure and funding. The recommendations developed by Washington Learns will fundamentally change educational expectations, delivery and results.

To ensure a broad cross-section of ideas and expertise, Governor Gregoire assembled a diverse group of business, community, education, government and minority leaders from all across Washington to create this roadmap for building a world–class education system that prepares all Washington students to succeed in today’s global economy.

Preparing all students to succeed in today’s global economy

  • Fully integrate our early learning, K–12 and post-secondary education systems so that the transition from one step to the next is seamless.

  • Ensure all children thrive early in life and are prepared to enter school.

  • Ensure all students master the skills they need to participate thoughtfully and productively in their work and their communities.

  • Close the achievement gap that academically sidelines low-income and minority students.

  • Make higher education and workforce training opportunities relevant and affordable so our workforce can compete within a global economy.
Our children hold OUR future in THEIR hands. We must invest in them today to prepare them for the future — and everyone benefits.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Manitoba’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team will test a new, all-season, state-of-the-art mobile command vehicle near Waterhen Feb. 10 and 11 during a 150-person remote deployment winter exercise, Labour and Immigration Minister Nancy Allan, minister responsible for the Office of the Fire Commissioner, announced today.

“This is the largest winter exercise ever organized by the fire commissioner, bringing together front‑line and support agencies in conditions that will challenge individuals and equipment,” said Allan.

“This exercise will also test the capacity of provincial and community resources to provide support to the response groups. We believe that if we can successfully operate in a remote environment, then we should have no problem in an urban setting. This exercise will come up against some of the most severe geographic and weather-related issues our province can pose.”

Agencies scheduled to participate include the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization, RCMP, the Department of National Defence, Winnipeg Police Service, Search and Rescue Manitoba and a number of ground search and rescue teams, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association and the community of Waterhen. Frontier School Division is providing students to act as victims during the exercise.

The new, state-of-the-art mobile command post will be tested for the first time. The vehicle features advanced satellite technology to assist ground and air search teams and is self-contained with its own power and water systems. A recently acquired unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will also be used in this search and rescue operation. The remote-control unit provides pictures, video and mapping capability using geographic information systems. Assiniboine Community College in Brandon is providing technical assistance and operators for the UAV. The USAR mobile, 10-bed multi-casualty treatment facility, staffed with medical professionals, will also be incorporated in the exercise for the first time.

Manitoba’s USAR team is prepared to respond to any emergency anywhere in any weather. The team recently participated in a cross-boundary exercise with Ontario in November. USAR can provide technical rescue services for many emergencies and is capable of providing any type of search and rescue activity, regardless of the size and complexity of the incident.

The Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner has the responsibility for running the USAR team of more than 100 members in Manitoba. It is made up of emergency response professionals from municipal and provincial services.

There are five USAR teams across Canada in Vancouver, Calgary, Manitoba, Toronto and Halifax which are jointly funded by the Government of Canada. The teams were formed after the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.