WASHINGTON - Federal regulators have approached big banks about borrowing billions of dollars to shore up the dwindling government fund that insures customers' deposit accounts.
The loans from the banks would go to the fund maintained by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. that insures depositors when banks fail, two industry officials familiar with the conversations, who requested anonymity because the plans are still evolving, said yesterday.
Regulators also are considering levying a special emergency fee on all banks, requiring early payment of regular fees or tapping a $100 billion credit line with the U.S. Treasury, the officials said.
FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray said that while borrowing from the banks "is an option, it's not being given serious consideration."
An agency board meeting to discuss the plans is scheduled for next week.
But a government official familiar with the FDIC board's thinking said yesterday the plan was being considered.
The fund, which insures deposit accounts up to $250,000 for each bank customer, is at its lowest level since 1992, at the height of the savings-and-loan crisis. Ongoing losses on commercial real estate and other loans continue to cause multiple bank failures each week.
The fund has slipped to 0.22 percent of insured deposits, below a congressionally mandated minimum of 1.15 percent.
The FDIC estimates bank failures will cost the fund about $70 billion through 2013. Ninety-four banks have failed so far this year.