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Paul Kiesel
Paul Kiesel
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Downey Savings: We Need a Cash Infusion

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Downey Savings might be the next bank to require government intervention (i.e. see FDIC IndyMac), as its most recent quarterly filing cites a "significant risk that the bank will not be able to raise sufficient additional capital to ensure compliance with the capital requirements of the bank consent order by yearend." Meaning: if Downey does indeed fail, it’ll be put into federal receivership (what the FDIC did on July 11, 2008 to IndyMac).

The main reason Downey Savings finds itself in this predicament: "Of the bank’s $12.8 billion in total assets, $5.7 billion were in the form of option ARMs held in portfolio at the end of the third quarter; deposits totaled just $9.6 billion at quarter end, down $1 billion from one year ago, as depositors withdrew funds over concerns about the bank’s future," (HousingWire.com, 11/12/08).

And if Downey is struggling that badly in its current financial state due to the amount of toxic option ARM loans it has on its balance sheet, wait till the other batch of option ARMs that were originated in 2007 have interest rate resets. These interest rate resets are predicated on: 1. The loans being negative amortizing; 2. The interest that’s not being paid is compounded (this is typical of Pick-a-Pay Option ARM Loans; Downey carelessly sold many of these loans to Californians), which forces the loan to reset its interest rate the moment the principal balance reaches 110% of the original amount (sometimes 115%); 3. The next wave of interest rate resets are taking slightly longer to occur then the first wave, because the fed has been lowering interest rates, thus, the second set of option ARM loan interest rate resets might not occur till mid-2009.

However, if banks like Downey are able to modify a borrower’s loan terms, and take a short-term hit, in hopes of preventing a potentially worse sequel to the current mortgage mess, then they might be able to make it out of this with their heads above water. If not, banks like Downey will continue to struggle with satisfying regulator-mandated capital requirements, with the exception of a cash infusion from another party.

Downey has yet to announce plans of a loan modification program, thereby finding itself ostensibly driving down the same bumpy road that IndyMac was recklessly swerving down back in the spring.