Five Maryland-insured savings and loan associations today got permission from the state to borrow money by issuing notes that association officials say may be necessary to help them qualify for federal insurance.
None of the five institutions -- including two large suburban Washington thrifts, John Hanson Savings and Loan and Community Savings & Loan -- proposed issuing the capital notes immediately. The notes, called subordinated debentures, are normally bought by banks, which are likely to insist on a high rate of return, according to association officials.
Jerry D. Whitlock, president of Beltsville-based John Hanson, said his association would issue debentures only as a backup, should the Federal Home Loan Bank Board find that John Hanson does not have enough in readily accessible assets. John Hanson, like other Maryland savings and loans that used to be privately insured, is attempting to qualify for membership in the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. FSLIC requires that a savings and loan have readily accessible assets of at least 5 percent more than its deposits.
Whitlock said his association is generally in good shape. He said deposits at John Hanson presently total $568 million, $7 million more than its total on May 14, when Gov. Harry Hughes imposed withdrawal limitations on state-insured savings and loan agencies.
John Hanson and other thrift institutions were insured by the private Maryland Savings-Share Insurance Corp. (MSSIC) until a customer run this spring on Old Court Savings and Loan, MSSIC'S second largest thrift, precipitated a crisis in the industry.
The state then abolished MSSIC in favor of a new, largely temporary state insurance fund and encouraged savings and loans to seek federal insurance.
Thrifts that were MSSIC members routinely considered their capital deposits in MSSIC -- $10.5 million in the instance of John Hanson -- among their assets. But federal officials have been disinclined to allow those contributions to count as accessible assets.
So far, only four of the 102 thrifts formerly insured by MSSIC have won federal insurance coverage.
Meanwhile, Friday marks the start of the second 30-day period during which, under the emergency order signed by Hughes last month, depositors in state-insured S&Ls can withdraw another $1,000 from their accounts.
Hughes, speaking in Rockville today to 125 members of a Demcratic club, called the savings and loan crisis "inevitable" and suggested it was needed to overhaul the now-defunct system of private thrift insurance.
"There were some indications sometime back there were some problems" in the S&L industry, Hughes said. "By the time we got into it, we knew it was inevitable. And, I think in order to correct the problem, there probably had to be a crisis."
The governor said he is uncertain what the eventual cost to the state government will be if larger thrifts are unable to win federal insurance protection. "No one can tell you with any degree of certainty what the final liability may be," Hughes said.
Later in an interview, Hughes went on to say that sifting through the tangled finances of Old Court alone will add "weeks, months or even a year" to calculating the cost to the state.
The requests to issue debentures were approved at today's monthly meeting of the Maryland Board of Savings and Loan Commissioners, the nine-member body appointed by the governor to oversee the state's S&L division.
The board stipulated that the debentures be used solely to help thrifts qualify for FSLIC coverage and that their specific terms be approved in advance by commission president W. Thomas Gisriel and S&L division director Charles H. Brown Jr.
Federal examiners have been examining John Hanson's books for three and one-half weeks, Whitlock said, and they may not be finished for another three or four weeks.
He said that if John Hanson is not allowed to count its MSSIC contributions as assets, it probably will need to raise about $8 million. Whitlock said he has talked to investment houses and the prospect of selling debentures "looks very positive."
What isn't so bright, he said, is that the interest rate savings and loans would pay probably would be 14 or 15 percent, or a floating rate that could be 5 percent higher than the prime rate.
What makes the notes so costly is the "subordinated" feature. In the event of a liquidation, note holders are behind general creditors and savings account holders to get their money, and before a thrift's stockholders.
The other associations applying for permission to issue debentures were Second National Building and Loan of Annapolis, and Sharon and Security Savings and Loans, both of Baltimore.