View from the Balcony

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Bank Asset Comparison as of December 31, 2016

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Top 100 Banks plus all the rest

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The Role of State Financial Regulators


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The community banks: The evolution of the financial sector, Part III

Martin Neil Baily and Nicholas Montalbano of Brookings recently published a paper on the role of community banks in local economic development and small business lending.  The authors find that despite concerns about the long-term survival of community banks due a decline in the number of banks and increased Dodd-Frank regulations, they continue to recover from the financial crisis and are in fact out-performing the Big Four banks in several key measures.

The paper leverages the FDIC community bank definition which was first established in the groundbreaking 2012 FDIC Community Bank Research Study to evaluate the financial performance of community banks . Unfortunately the authors conclude that the significant decline in the number of very small banks has had a limited impact, because these banks represent such a “tiny part” of the sector.  What the authors fail to recognize is the significant role that small community banks play in the communities in which they operate.

It is great to see research on community banking to help develop a better understanding of the industry. Overall the paper is worth the read, but keep in mind that the loss of a small community bank, while insignificant to the broader financial sector, is a tremendous loss to the community which it serves.  The paper may be found here:  The community banks: The evolution of the financial sector, Part III

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OCC to Require Largest Banks to Develop “Recovery Plan” to Survive Financial Crises

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced this week that the nation’s largest banks will need to develop a “recovery plan” to help it survive a crisis.

The OCC’s announcement signifies an effort by the agency to provide additional guidance beyond the FDIC and Federal Reserve’s “living wills,” establishing a planning process that encourages the nation’s largest banks to prepare and take action before they fail.  The FDIC and the Federal Reserve Board are mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act to require the biggest banks submit detailed plans on how they could be dismantled upon failure during a crisis. The OCC’s proposal would require banks with assets of $50 billion or more to create detailed plans to survive a crisis.

According to the proposed guidelines posted in the Federal Register, the OCC’s guidance would require these large banks to show how different hypothetical crisis scenarios would affect the bank and its recovery.  OCC examiners would assess the plan, determining whether the bank has adequately prepared for a wide range of crises and whether the plan is properly integrated with the institution’s overall risk management processes and crisis communications plan.

Read more about the OCC’s proposed recovery plan in the federal register.

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More Computers than I need – what to do?

I find myself with more computers than I need and no real plan to deal with the mess.  Yes, it is a mess.  Pictures, files and music are strewn across no less than 5 machines.  I disposed of two earlier this summer, but one was so old that it wouldn’t boot without a DOS disk – so that hardly qualifies as much of a sacrifice.  Each machine represents a stage in my life, and I find it increasingly difficult to consolidate and part with the aging pieces of my technological life.  I’ve considered a network storage system, but that involves buying more equipment.  Maybe I will send it all to a cloud storage system, but that requires research to make sure I choose the right one.  Right now, I am typing on a Mac Mini and updating a behemoth Windows 7 machine that I built from scratch.  Shortly they will all be up to date and functioning fine – it seems a waste to dispose of perfectly good machines – don’t you think?  I have actually been actively considering building a new computer – one that will presumably allow me to consolidate everything into one place and allow me to shed the “unneeded” hardware.  Since that actually makes less sense than a network storage device or cloud storage, it is likely not going to happen despite the appeal of building a new device from the ground up.  What do you think – Network Storage or the Cloud and what is the best option?

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Our Nation’s Capital

We had a nice trip to Washington DC in October. The weather was spectacular for most of the trip. Cool nights and warm sunny afternoons on most days was the norm. The St. Gregory Hotel and Suites turned out to be a nice place to stay. The Hotel is centrally located near DuPont Circle and Georgetown. Most of the week, we spent wandering around DC and Arlington. I hadn’t spent much time in Georgetown, so I enjoyed the opportunity to visit the area. This is a picture of the Canal in Georgetown.

The canal runs parallel to M Street and the Potomac River. It looked like there were little people moving green striped barge type vessels that might haul tourist up and down the canal, but we didn’t actually witness that action. While we were in the area, we went down to the river and had lunch. I ordered some oysters on the half shell and E had an interesting soft shell crab sandwich.

Later that same evening, we went out to eat at “The Hamilton” with some friends that live in the area. We walked back past The White House on the way to our hotel. This picture is a little eery looking, but it was interesting to note that the lights were on in the residence.

Earlier in the week, we hiked the mall. This a view from the Lincoln Monument :

And the Lincoln Monument itself:

The Vietnam War Memorial is always a sobering place to visit. It is laid out with the first casualties from 1959 and last casualties from 1975 in the middle of the monument. So as you walk to either end, you are actually reading the names of soldiers that died in the middle of the conflict. My brother served in Vietnam, so this place always reminds me how lucky we were to get him back in one piece.

The World War II Memorial is a place that my father supported and had a great interest in, but unfortunately never got to visit. I am sure he would have been proud of the memorial. It is a beautiful place to visit. All of the States are represented with monuments along the perimeter of the memorial. This is a photo of the monument dedicated to the Atlantic Theater.

If you visit Washington DC, the National Park Service has an iPhone app that will explain a lot about the area. You can find it here:

[NPS National Mall – National Park Service Computer](

So ends the travel log, but it is worthy to note that E and I celebrated our 37th anniversary of our first date while on this trip. We have come a long way since seeing Jaws together back in 1975. Overall it was a good trip. It was nice to see the area without the obligation to work while I was there, and it was especially nice to spend the week with my lovely wife. I hope we have many more trips to write about over the years!

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dBpoweramp: CD Ripper & Audio Converter.

I have been looking for a way to rip  CD’s to  a bit-perfect audio codec.  dBpoweramp just may be the ticket to rip CD’s  and convert files to Mp3, FLAC, M4a, WMA, and Apple Lossless formats.

dBpoweramp: CD Ripper & Audio Converter. Secure ripping to mp3, FLAC, m4a, Apple Lossless & WMA.

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Rega Brio R and DAC


The newest edition to the electronics collection!

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