Although thrifts have put together a string of record earnings, experts fear that the industry will end up paying much higher premiums than banks in the future.

They say the difference will drive depositors out of thrifts and into banks.

"That would basically be the death knell of the industry," said Steven Worwa, chief executive and president of American Federal Savings Bank, a profitably run thrift in East Grand Forks, Minn. The capital markets will shift money away from companies in the Savings Association Insurance Fund insured in favor of those in the Bank Insurance Fund, he said.

Bert Ely, a bank and thrift consultant in Alexandria, Va., expects bank insurance premiums could slip as low as 3 cents for every $100 in insured deposits by 1996, from 23 cents. Thrift premiums, on the other hand, could jump as high as 30 cents.

"This is economic arson," he said. "We are going to see enormous deposit shrinkage in the thrift industry."

Mr. Ely said the increase depends on how much of the cost for cleaning up troubled thrifts will fall on the industry's shoulders.

"Congress has to understand there is only so much tax you can dump on them," he said.

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