Some interesting info in this excellent reporting from the AJC:
Henry has been among the hardest hit counties in Georgia’s banking crisis. Ten banks that had at least a branch in Henry have failed, including the five that were based in the county when the Great Recession started.
Metro Atlanta’s once surging Southside was once so hot, community banks sprouted up or moved their headquarters there to tap into the real estate gold rush. But Stockbridge-based First State was an old hand in Henry, founded in 1964. It also was the county’s largest bank by deposits as of last June, the latest data available, outsizing even Wells Fargo and SunTrust there.
The established bank tried to hang on, but:
First Bank officials tried to hold on through the real estate crisis, said Walt Moeling, a bank attorney with Bryan Cave in Atlanta. But, he said, the bank could no longer absorb losses from struggling borrowers, nor withstand plummeting real estate values, worsened in part by the local failures.
Henry County has a population of about 200,000, up a dramatic 71% from about 120,000 a decade earlier. The surging population on the southern edge of the Atlanta metro area no doubt fueled the speculation.
So what if it had been harder to form banks in Georgia during the boom? Would the established banks like First State still found themselves in trouble because of overspeculation in real estate development?
And would banks like First State perhaps have been able to weather the storm if they hadn’t had so many banks failing around them and acquiring banks moving aggressively to unload distressed properties?
It’s also worth noting that there had apparently been no public release of information regarding enforcement actions by the FDIC. That seems unusual for such a significant closure.