Even as the region’s largest bank grabs on to a $500 million lifeline, smaller banks in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties reported mixed first quarters and plans to bring much-needed capital into the region.
Many of the region’s banks found their income statements back in the black and saw deposits grow during the first quarter but were faced with stagnant loan demand. Many worked to get problem assets off the books — particularly sour real estate loans.
“A bank is a reflection of the local economy, so that tells me the economy is beginning to improve,” said Sung Won Sohn, a CSU Channel Islands professor and former Wells Fargo economist. “More specifically, banks are enjoying very low cost of deposits right now. And asset quality is beginning to improve.”