Moody's downgrades 10 regional banks after Fed dollars dwindle
Moody's Investors Service downgraded deposit ratings on 10 large, regional banks because of reduced levels of support from the federal government, if the banks should fail. Five of the banks are in the top 20 of mortgage originators in the county. When President Obama signed into law the sweeping reforms of Dodd-Frank, the government "signaled its intent to limit support for individual banks," according to analysts. "The downgrades reflect our view that the likelihood of government support for these 10 institutions is lower now that the U.S. banking system has moved beyond the depths of the financial crisis," said Robert Young, managing director for Moody's North American Bank Ratings. "The failure of any one of these banks therefore would be unlikely to trigger contagion and systemic risk." Moody's had put the regional banks on review July 27. Analysts said the changes included in the new legislation contrasts with the government stance of early 2009, "when it stated that support would be forthcoming for large regional banks that could not raise sufficient capital to satisfy government requirements." The ratings of the affected banks vary with most remaining in the A category following the downgrade. Although the rating of Popular Inc. (BPOP), which is based in Puerto Rico, was dropped to Baa3 from Baa2, and Alabama-based Regions Financial Corp. (RF) was downgraded to Baa3 from Baa1. Zions Bancorporation (ZION) of Salt Lake City was lowered to Ba3 from Ba2. Other banks that were downgraded include BB&T Corp. (BBT), Capital One Financial Corp. (COF), Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB), KeyCorp (KEY), PNC Financial Services Group (PNC), SunTrust Banks Inc. (STI), and U.S. Bancorp (USB). The mortgage origination divisions of U.S. Bank, SunTrust, BB&T, Fifth Third and PNC represent the 6, 7, 12, 16 and 17 ranked national originators according to mortgage volume. The five made up a little under 10% of the nation's mortgages last year, with $176 billion dollars worth of mortgages originated. Moody's also changed its outlook on American Express Co. (AXP) to negative from stable as a result of the removal of the federal support assumption. Write to Jason Philyaw. The author holds no relevant interests.