Iowa bankers have little nostalgia for the late 1980s.

"It was a very difficult time," said Charles S. Howard, chairman and chief executive officer of Mahaska Investment Co. in Oskaloosa. "I still cringe when I think about the loans we had to write off." But as it turns out, the depression that struck the Farm Belt was not a complete wash for Mahaska. In 1988, when the crisis was at its worst, the company bought a pool of distressed assets from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for $18 million.

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