Monthly Archives: May 2009

Understanding Bank IV’s effect

I’ll be the first to admit that being the Eagle’s banking reporter I can be pretty fixated on talking about Bank IV alum.

You’ll see that in a story I wrote for Saturday about some former Bank IV trust and wealth management officers joining Emprise Bank.

I fixate on the whole Bank IV connection because many of its leaders continue to operate in top jobs at several Wichita banks and companies.

That point was underscored recently while I was searching the Eagle’s library. Though I wasn’t looking for it, I ran across the Spring 1994 Kansas Bank Directory, which is sort of an industry guide to all of the banks that operate in the state and the people who guide them.

On page 280 of the 15-year-old directory is a list of Bank IV’s executive team: Tom Page, president, community banking; David Strohm, president, investments; Marilyn Pauly, president, Bank IV Wichita; Kurt Watson, executive vice president, retail and commercial banking; Monty Briley, executive vice president, specialized banking; Rolando Mayans, senior vice president and auditor;Jim Faith, senior vice president, correspondent banking; and Bryce Carr, president, Bank IV Derby.

Now, if we took that list of names, here’s what it looks like today: Tom Page, president and CEO of Emprise Bank; David Strohm, president of TrueNorth; Marilyn Pauly, vice chairman of Commerce Bank; Kurt Watson, president and chief operating officer of IMA Financial Group; Monty Briley, executive vice president of commercial banking at Emprise; Rolando Mayans, executive vice president at Equity Bank; Jim Faith, Sunflower Bank Wichita president; and Bryce Carr, executive vice president of trust and investments at Emprise.

Just from that sampling it’s easy to see that not only was Bank IV the state’s biggest bank ever, but it also was a training ground for Wichita’s business leaders today.

Real estate pain shifting?

A couple of Reuters real estate stories indicate the pain of the economic downturn may be shifting.

A British analyst says commercial real estate prices fell by double digits in the first quarter.

And a second calls today’s National Association of Realtors housing sales report for April an indication that the market has bottomed out and the recession is ending.

The second story is overly optimistic in the eyes of Wichita’s residential brokers and analysts, who say the local market has a long way to go to recover.

And no recovery is likely until job security increases in the Wichita area.

Wichita developers furious about county’s Bel Aire plan

For a fortnight, I thought Sedgwick County’s proposal to drop a cool $14 million on 808 acres of prime industrial land the city of Bel Aire can’t give away was going to slip under the radar.

Brother, was I wrong!

The proposed purchase and installation of a rail spur is the talk of the city’s development community, and not in a positive way. The word “bailout” keeps coming up.

The proposal is being characterized by developers in a variety of ways: A knee-jerk reaction to Siemens’ decision to locate near Hutchinson – ironically, on a big chunk of land near a rail spur; an attempt by the county to save one jurisdiction from financial ruin; an ill-fated reach for a huge industrial client.

And in several meeting rooms, as the county going into direct competition against private developers.

There’s some truth to that argument. Can the county wait for years while the area pursues the ever-elusive Toyota plant? Probably not. So the alternative becomes subdividing the land into smaller development chunks – and going into competition against the city’s private developers.

Not a real incentive for private development, is it?

Sedgwick County’s idea to establish a huge industrial park’s got some merit – but you can fairly wonder if a tract with a bad track record of development interest is the place to start.

This chunk of land certainly looks like a bad idea – for Bel Aire back in the days when its council went into the real estate development business.

And for Sedgwick County now unless the land is de-annexed and the county makes its peace with local developers.

Congress cracking down on oil speculators?

Right on cue, the U.S. Congress is considering a global warming bill that contains a crackdown on oil speculators, as outlined on Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Although this kind of legislation is sure to cause heads to explode in Wichita and points south, it seems like a reasonable hedge against $4 a gallon gasoline cutting a swath through any economic recovery.

However, in a sign that the Apocalypse may be upon us, the article goes on to point out that the Saudis think the current $60 per barrel per price is too high – and may hinder any recovery from the recession.

Ron Prince: Journalism agent?

Here’s a shameless plug for a nice piece of journalism from my colleague Jeffrey Martin, a piece that proves again that college sports is big business. You’d have to go to Wall Street or Detroit, I suspect, to find a CEO who got a better parting gift after running his company aground than the giant bag of money Kansas State gave Ron Prince.

Obviously, I should have applied for the newspaper advisor’s position at K-State. In the Jon Wefald economy, that one probably was good for at least a half-million. Nice, soft landing spot, I suspect.

I wouldn’t let Ron Prince in the same county with my football team, the Oklahoma Sooners. (And for you detail freaks, that county is Cleveland, home of the Big 12′s best football program.)

But … I’d hire him in a minute to negotiate my next raise.

Ag community divided over cap-and-trade

WICHITA — The agricultural community doesn’t speak with one voice when it comes to federal cap-and-trade legislation now being considered by House committees.

Roger Johnson, the new president of the National Farmers Union, made it clear in an interview with The Wichita Eagle this week that he would only support cap-and-trade if ag would be allowed to sell carbon offsets.

But the American Farm Bureau Federation appears to be against the climate change bill, which includes the proposed cap-and-trade system, under any conditions. AFBF president Bob Stallman notes that the legislation would put U.S. farmers at a competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays, said this week it’s not likely that revenue from offsets will “even come close” to mitigating the increased costs of inputs that would result from the legislation.

More on understanding credit card reform

Here’s an interesting Q&A from the Washington Post on Monday on the implications of credit card reform, which passed the Senate today in an overwhelming 90-5 vote – now we know how many bankers are in the Senate – and is headed for conference.

And here’s the Post story on today’s vote.

Now, everyone may be paying a $50 annual fee and 18 percent interest to use a credit card.

Ah, the horror. :-)

We could chat until Judgment Day about the wisdom of carrying revolving debt and the wisdom of deregulation. What are your thoughts on both?

Fed report: farmland values steady, ag credit tightens

Farmland values appeared to stabilize in the first quarter of 2009 for the 10th district, according to a survey of agricultural credit conditions conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

District farmland values held relatively steady after modest declines at the end of 2008. Non-irrigated farmland values rose 1.4 percent during the quarter, and there was no change in the value of irrigated acreage.

The survey of 255 bankers also found that softer farm incomes slowed capital spending, and turbulent agricultural and macroeconomic conditions contributed to tighter agricultural credit conditions.

Collateral requirements edged up and the rate of loan repayment fell for the second straight quarter. The bankers also felt that agricultural credit conditions could weaken further.

The 10th district includes Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, the northern half of New Mexico and the western third of Missouri.

Details on credit card reform

Here’s an interesting explanatory piece on the planks in the credit card reform bill that seems headed to President Obama’s desk for signature.

It’s better reporting that most of the mainstream media has done on the subject, but it doesn’t ask the question I hear most often: What does the bill do to help people who’ve had rates jacked up by the card companies before the bill becomes law?

I’d still be interested in the answer to that question.

Poll: Kansans willing to pay to generate more renewable energy

A poll released this week by the Climate and Energy Project showed three out of four Kansans would be willing to pay between $2 to $5 more every month on their energy bill if it means generating more renewable energy.

So what do you think? Is that an accurate reflection of the state’s thinking?

The polling was conducted April 26-29 by Ayres, McHenry and Associates. The poll surveyed 600 registered voters selected randomly throughout the state and had a 4 percent margin of error.

When a bank fails, what happens to its loans?

Ever wonder what happens to your loan if regulators close your bank?

Well, it doesn’t go away. That’s for certain.

But there are a few things you should know.

And the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has created a new Web page aimed at providing you information should such a circumstance arise.

Check out the Web page here.

FDIC opens second failed bank office

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says that it plans to open a second national satellite office to help it with the work of resolving failed banks and thrifts.

The federal agency responsible for insuring bank and thrift deposits says the new office will be in Jacksonville, Fla., and will oversee the management of receiverships and asset liquidations for failed banks on the East Coast.

The space it is leasing will have enough room to handle up to 500 nonpermanent workers and contractors.

In November, the agency opened its first temporary, national satellite office in Irvine, Calif., in a 200,000-square-foot space.

The agency says it expects to begin moving into the Jacksonville office in mid-September.

As of last week, the FDIC has been involved in 33 bank and thrift closings this year, compared to 25 in 2008.