Banks Post Record Profits but Top Regulator Urges Caution

From Associated Press

U.S. banks earned a record $25.3 billion last year, the government said Monday, but a top regulator chided the industry for passing on more than half of the profits to stockholders and advised banks to adopt a more conservative approach.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman L. William Seidman, previewing a report to be issued by his agency today, said bank profits for the three months ending Dec. 31 hit $6.7 billion, an all-time high and $800 million more than the previous record of $5.9 billion set in the third quarter.

“This is the first time we have ever seen consecutive record-setting quarters,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery to the New York Society of Securities Analysts.