Bank Failures

More monsters on the way?

January 23, 2009: 12:11 PM ET

boylePerhaps you guys can help me understand something.

Word comes today from a most credible source that the failure of smaller banks may soon lead to more consolidation and mergers in the banking industry. One analyst told the New York Times that 200 to 300 small banks might fail in the near future, and be forced into mergers, presumably with larger entities.

This is a solution?

Didn't we just see what happened to Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC)? Aren't both now being deconstructed due to unsuccessful, if not heedless, acquisitions? Haven't empires from Rome to ITT fallen into rubble as a result of getting too big, too fast? And haven't we seen ample evidence of that fact as recently as this morning, as the implied value of AOL ratchets down in the wake of a Google writedown (GOOG)?

This is not to say, as some have contended, that all mergers and acquisitions are bad. When two strong entities come together, it's a beautiful thing. But ugly monsters made out of dead body parts yield the expected results, usually ending when a group of townspeople with pitchforks chase the poor creature into a barn that is then burned to the ground.

Certainly the merger of these bankettes, which are now suffering from being in the same room with the commercial real estate market, is preferable to their failure.

But is the future truly served if the muscle of capital does its usual thing, providing fees to all the lawyers, MBAs and other financial types as they once again set up great hulking behemoths destined to lurch over the cliff in the next high breeze?

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