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Track health, oversight of banks

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By Reid Kanaley
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Published:
Last week's financial news included reports of a monster investment loss at JPMorgan and new rules for salvaging failed banks. Here are some sites for tracking banks' health and oversight.
Who's in charge?
This chart at the Fiscal Times website might simply confirm many folks' worries that bank oversight is so complicated that it makes no sense. Various commissions, departments and bureaus oversee certain activities of banks, while an assortment of agencies, now including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, try to look after consumer interests. The article and video feeds at the Fiscal Times home page are a well-managed source of financial news of the day; http://tinyurl.com/watchingbanks.
How to complain
After much political controversy over its own oversight, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is up and running, and its website has established tools for filing complaints, being a whistle-blower on institutional wrongdoing, or simply understanding and dealing with credit cards, debt collectors, mortgages and other everyday personal financial issues; www.consumerfinance.gov.
Too big to fail
An official of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. last week outlined plans for salvaging operations of large financial institutions in the event that one goes bust, as Lehman Bros. did in September 2008, a key event in the acceleration of the economic meltdown that fateful autumn. The FDIC's site is closely watched each Friday evening for word of bank failures, though the pace of those failures has slowed considerably this year as the overall economy has improved; fdic.gov.
How does your bank rate?
See a "Safe & Sound" rating for a bank, thrift or credit union at Bankrate.com. The service will display a star rating for the bank, and links to details about the bank's ownership, deposits, loans, earnings, and its ratio of "nonperforming assets," the proportion of loans gone bad. The site has information about saving and investing, including calculators for mortgages, retirement, and handling debts; http://tinyurl.com/banksratings.

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