MarketWatch: While the bank industry's problems today loom large, they're relatively small when put in historical context. "We've had five bank failures this year. Historically, that's not a lot," said Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. "During the S&L days we were closing one a day."
In 1989, 534 banks closed and 1,500 were on the FDIC's "troubled bank" list, compared with 90 on that list in the first quarter this year. While Bair said the number of troubled banks will likely increase this year, "we're still operating at relatively low levels."