WASHINGTON — The industry’s health — as judged by Camels ratings assigned by federal bank and thrift examiners — peaked in 1998 and has gradually deteriorated ever since.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data compiled for American Banker showed that examiners reduced the Camels scores for 801 banks and thrifts last year but raised them for 551 — a net negative change of 250 institutions. That’s 3.73% of the 6,705 banks and thrifts examined in 2000. The Camels rating change was a negative 3.38% in 1999 and a negative 0.04% in 1998. For comparison, a net 329 banks and thrifts won higher Camels grades in 1997, or 4.12% of the 7,994 exams done that year.

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