The head of the agency that insures bank deposits said today it has plenty of money to cover any failures this year.
Sheila Bair, the chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., said the agency has set aside $22 billion to cover any projected losses over the next year, leaving $19 billion. The deposit insurance fund now stands at its lowest level in nearly a quarter-century and is raising the assessment on banks and thrifts to give it more money in reserve.
"We'd like a bigger cushion. We'd like to be prepared for all contingencies, so we are increasing our reserves, our assessments, so that should bolster our reserves some more," Bair said.
Just 2½ months into the year, 17 federally insured banks have failed. The FDIC believes U.S. bank failures will cost the deposit insurance fund more than $65 billion over the next four years. The FDIC insures bank accounts for up to $250,000.
"Overall, we're fine. But it is important for people to understand, we're backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. The money will always be there. We can't run out of money," Bair said.
Bair was interviewed on CBS' "Early Show."