By all accounts Li Pei Wu, chairman and chief executive of Los Angeles' General Bank, shouldn't have much to worry abouut. His bank has been one of the best performing and fastest growing in Southern California and has survived the real estate debacle there comparatively well.

But the pessimism in his voice shows how much the California economy has soured even the most successful community bankers. "I've been in banking for 25 years, most of them in Alaska," Mr. Wu said in a phone interview this week. "We went through the post-pipeline recession there and the oil shock of the 1970s, and I've been a banker here since 1982.

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