Financial Industry: Big Profits . . . For Now

Big Profits . . . For Now

Last year's dismal recession produced at least one major surprise. Banks and savings and loans actually managed to pull off one of their best performances in years. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation reported last week that the commercial banking industry earned $18.6 billion in 1991, up 16% from the previous year and the largest profit since 1988. And the Office of Thrift Supervision said the S&L industry posted earnings of $1.97 billion, the first gain in five years. The thrifts lost $2.9 billion in 1990.

But don't uncork the champagne yet. Experts believe much of these gains came from one-time factors....