WASHINGTON -- In a further sign that the savings and loan crisis is winding down, the only thrift to fail this year has been sold, and the cost to the government was minimal.

Stockton, Calif.-based American Savings Bank - a failed thrift itself back in 1988 - acquired $96 million-asset Encino Savings Bank last Friday. The cost to taxpayers, under a program designed to speed disposal of failed thrifts, was a rock-bottom $4.6 million.

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