The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Wednesday released an analysis of the banking business in the agency's eight regions.

The first-quarter editions of "Regional Outlook" spotlight the risk of high-loan-to-value home equity loans. The FDIC said losses on these loans are "increasing rapidly, and the current rate of loss raises concerns about how these loans might perform in an economic recession."

The reports also analyze the health of the commercial real estate market in each region and the implications of secondary-market liquidity for syndicated lending.

The FDIC noted that while agricultural loan repayments weakened since the first quarter of 1998, "increases in loan quality problems at agricultural banks were reported only in isolated areas."

"Farm banks generally are in relatively strong financial condition, but if weak exports of farm products and low commodity prices continue into 2000, the financial condition of farmers could deteriorate significantly."

The reports are available on the FDIC's Web site at www.fdic.gov.

- David Harrison

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