Why are big banks suddenly rushing to shut down so many local branches all over the nation? As I have discussed in previous articles, U.S. banks are currently sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars in unrealized losses. When financial institutions get into trouble, they start getting really tight with their money and they start cutting costs. In addition to laying off workers, our banks have been cutting costs by permanently closing local branches. For example, between November 12th and November 18th, the sixth largest bank in the United States initiated filings to close 19 more local branches…
America’s sixth-largest bank, PNC, has confirmed the closure of 19 more branches nationwide, following a staggering 203 branch closures earlier this year. This decision, aligning with the bank’s shift towards digital banking, is raising concerns among customers who prefer traditional banking methods.
Scheduled for February 2024, the closures will primarily impact Pennsylvania, where the majority of branches marked for closure are located. However, several branches in other states, including Illinois, Texas, Alabama, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, and Indiana, will also be shutting their doors, leaving customers in these regions with limited access to in-person banking services, The Sun reported.
Of course PNC has lots of company.
During that exact same week, several other prominent banks made similar moves…
JPMorgan Chase followed closely with 18 filings—three in Ohio, two each in Connecticut and South Carolina, and one each in 11 states, including New York, Illinois, Florida, and Massachusetts.
Citizens Bank came in third with eight branch closure filings—six in New York, and one each in Massachusetts and Delaware. Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank filed for seven closures—three in Tennessee and one each in Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Illinois.
Bank of America made five filings—two in New York and one each in Texas, Massachusetts, and California.
Citibank filed for two branch closures, and Sterling, Bremer, First National Bank of Hughes Springs, Windsor FS&LA, and Aroostook County FS&LA made one filing each.
Altogether, banks filed to shut down 64 branches.
Read that last sentence again.
In just one week, U.S. banks decided to shut down a total of 64 branches.
That is stunning.
What we are witnessing right now is a tsunami of branch closures.
Unfortunately, even more trouble is coming for our banks because the real estate industry is a total mess right now.
Existing home sales have fallen to depressingly low levels, and we just learned that new home sales in the U.S. dropped 5.6 percent last month…
New home sales in the United States fell in October as typical mortgage rates reached their highest levels this year.
Sales of newly constructed homes fell 5.6% in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 679,000, from a revised rate of 719,000 in September, according to a joint report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Census Bureau.
Prices for new homes are falling as well…
So the median price of new single-family houses sold in October fell by 3.1% from September, to $409,300 (red line), the lowest since August 2021, down by 17.6% from a year ago, which had been the peak, according to data from the Census Bureau today. The three-month moving average is down by nearly 12% from its peak in December last year (green).
These are contract prices and do not include the costs of mortgage-rate buydowns and other incentives such as free upgrades. But they do reflect the lower price points due to smaller footprints and the “de-amenitizing.”
Meanwhile, the commercial real estate crisis just continues to intensify.
Just check out these new numbers that were released several days ago by Trepp…
The volume of CMBS loans that are classified as delinquent increased by 49.4% during the 10 months through October to $27.91 billion. That volume amounts to 5.07% of the $601.98 billion universe tracked by Trepp. In contrast, delinquencies at the end of last year amounted to 3.03% of the $616.15 billion universe then extant.
It turns out that office buildings are the primary reason why delinquencies are rising at such an astounding pace…
The driver of the increase was the office sector, which had a 261% increase in delinquency volumes over the 10-month period through October. A total of 199 loans with a balance of $9.59 billion, or 5.91% of all CMBS office loans were at least 30 days late with their payments, as of the end of October. At the end of last year, 115 loans with a balance of $2.65 billion, or 1.63% of office loans, were delinquent.
The sector’s prospects are unlikely to improve as office occupancy rates have declined in most of the country’s major markets. That’s been driven by a substantial pullback in demand from office-using tenants.
All of this reminds me so much of what we witnessed in 2008.
When the real estate industry falls on hard times, a financial crisis is usually right around the corner.
Needless to say, it isn’t just U.S. banks that are in trouble right now.
Major banks all over the globe are getting hit really hard, and that includes Metro Bank in the UK…
Metro Bank shareholders have backed a multi-million pound rescue deal aimed at securing the bank’s future.
The vote was on a package the bank agreed last month to raise extra funds from investors and refinance debt. Metro’s share price had plunged in September following reports it needed to raise cash to shore up its finances.
In the days ahead, we are going to hear about a lot more banks that need to “shore up” their finances.
And it is inevitable that more banks will fail.
A number of people have asked me questions about their banks lately, and I have told them the same thing that I tell everyone.
It is never wise to put all of your eggs in one basket.
We are moving into a period of time that is going to be extremely chaotic, and so you don’t want to have all of your assets in a single place.
What we have seen so far is just the beginning. Our banks are going to get into even deeper trouble during the days ahead, and that is really bad news for all of us.
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