THE single-storey main branch of the Texas Hill Country Bank, in Kerrville, sits at the back of a tired shopping centre, in the shade of a six-storey Wells Fargo building. When Roy Thompson, the chief executive, was hired (from Wells) in 2012, three years after it opened, he ran a radio ad campaign to alert locals to its existence. It asked listeners to help a mother (his) to find her child (Roy himself), who had gone missing after joining a community bank.
If Mr Thompson had shared the fate of many small-town bankers, he would have remained missing. Since 2012 more than 2,000 American banks have closed (see chart). Almost all were small, operating in the shadows of big banks with big budgets for marketing, technology and regulatory compliance. For the same reasons, almost no new banks have opened. Before the crisis the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) approved hundreds of bank charters each year. Since 2009 there have been only a dozen in total.
So sudden has been the stop that the FDIC is seeking to...Continue reading