Banks are doing better now than in the dark days of TARP, stress tests, "bad banks," and bailouts.

But how much better is better?

Bank failures. If U.S. regulators close a bank - 45 were closed this year as of June 3 - the event is announced here, usually late on a Friday. When a bank fails, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. steps in and usually sells its assets to another bank, with the aim of effecting a seamless transition for depositors. The FDIC site has information about individual banks, how the banking system works, and what it means to have your accounts insured.

Banktracker. Check out any bank's "troubled asset ratio" - a measure of a bank's poorly performing loans - in graphic form at this site set up by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication. You can also look up any credit union in the country and find statistics on institutions' total deposits and loans. The editor of the project is former business journalist Wendell Cochran, a founder of the workshop.

Safe and sound. has a rating system for banks, thrifts, and credit unions. The rating uses publicly available information to award stars based on such things as an institution's "capital adequacy," profitability, and liquidity. If you don't like what you see for your bank, search by the number of stars (up to five) to help pick a new home for your deposits.

Mattress Bank. From the depths of the late recession comes this British blog post on why it was never a good idea to stash your cash under the bed. The obvious-but-entertaining advice includes the news that your mattress doesn't pay interest and that termites could do more damage than inflation and the failure of an insured bank.