WASHINGTON - The Resolution Trust Corp.'s June 30 deadline for accepting new cases came and went without any last-minute thrift shutdowns.
As of midnight Saturday, thrift failures ceased to be the responsibility of the largely taxpayer-funded RTC. Now any resolution costs must be paid by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s Savings Association Insurance Fund.
Funded by the thrift industry, it is undercapitalized, with only one- fourth as much money in its coffers as regulators and Congress require.
Its perilous state had prompted speculation that the Office of Thrift Supervision might rush to close the handful of severely troubled thrifts targeted by regulators before the RTC stopped accepting new business. Even Jonathan Fiechter, the thrift agency's acting director, said he would try to move quickly to avoid burdening the savings fund.
But Friday afternoon, the regulators' favored time for bank and thrift shutdowns, passed uneventfully.
This leaves four thrifts, with total assets of $2 billion, identified last month by RTC acting chief John Ryan as "likely failures," teetering on the brink of costing the savings fund a lot of money. The fund contains about $2.2 billion; cleaning up failed thrifts with assets of $2 billion is likely to cost $240 million to $300 million.
So far this year, regulators have closed down two thrifts: $370 million- asset Continental Savings of San Francisco in April and $68 million-asset American Savings and Loan Association of New York in May.
Those closures, together with 745 other thrift failures since the beginning of 1989, are expected to end up costing the RTC a total of $90.2 billion - an agency estimate that was seconded last month by the General Accounting Office. That's $14.8 billion less than Congress authorized the agency to spend.
The leftover authorization - the money hasn't actually been appropriated by Congress - can be used to shore up the savings insurance fund for two years after the RTC shuts its doors Dec. 31. But first, the FDIC must certify to Congress that the thrift fund cannot pay for insurance losses through industry premium assessments or Treasury borrowings without harming its member institutions and causing the government to incur greater losses.
Using leftover funds in this way would, however, be unpopular with Congress and would also trigger pay-as-you-go rules that require any deficit increases to be offset by spending cuts.
The Clinton administration already has indicated that RTC money will not be part of its soon-to-be-released equation for recapitalizing the savings insurance fund.