More Bank Failures Dead Ahead

Which bank will be lucky 100th bank to fail in 2009? Or more fittingly, the unlucky 100th? The world will have to wait until next weekend.

By: Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Which bank will be lucky 100th bank to fail in 2009? Or more fittingly, the unlucky 100th? The world will have to wait until next weekend.

Last weekend the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. closed San Joaquin Bank in Bakersfield, Calif., which then became bank 99 to fail for the year. Ten of those, including this latest one, have been in California, a state hit hard by the popping of the real estate bubble.

Still, this year won’t be as epic in terms of bank failure as 1989, which saw 534 banks fail, nor even 1992, when 181 banks failed. But many more bank implosions are ahead: according to the FDIC, currently 416 banks are in its “at risk” category.

For obvious run-on-the-bank reasons, the agency doesn’t disclose exactly which banks those are. But it’s a safe bet that many of them are suffering from loans made during the “real estate always goes up” period of the mid-2000s.

Microsoft Hits the Mall This Week

The first-ever Microsoft retail location in Scottsdale, Ariz., is on the verge of opening – on October 22, according to various reports. In yet another example of “if Apple does it, we should too,” the retail opening is timed to coincide more or less with the launch of the new Windows 7 operating system. What the retail equivalent of the Windows 7 security patches—which are sure to be released soon after the operating system is released—be like? It remains to be seen.

Microsoft devotees are also waiting to see the exact configuration of the store, and how much space will be devoted to the software behemoth’s brands. Besides Windows 7 and other software, mostly that includes Xbox, a popular gaming system, and Zune. (Zune is a not-so-popular digital audio player, not a fictional planet in the Doctor Who series.)

The stores will also have an equivalent of Apple’s Genius Bar in-store customer-service feature to offer help to vexed Microsoft customers. It’s unlikely, however, that the Microsoft geniuses will recommend that harried PC users switch to Macs for their fewer errors, relative lack of viruses and cooler design.

Was the Bear Looking for Hamm’s?

In an unusual bit of retail news, a 125-lb. black bear entered a grocery store in northern Wisconsin late last week, repaired to the cool reaches of the beer cave and hung out until officials from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources tranquilized the animal. Beer caves have been an increasingly popular feature for the retail sale of beer in recent years, but this is the first time they’ve been known to attract a literal party animal. Reportedly, however, the bear didn’t consume any of the alcohol, which leaves it an open question as whether he was smarter than the average bear.

Wall Street slipped below the milestone 10,000 on Friday, but not by much. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 67.03 points, or 0.67 percent, to end at 9995.91. The S&P 500 dropped 0.81 percent and the Nasdaq was down 0.76 percent.