IT SEEMS each day brings more bad news about the savings and loan mess. The latest quarterly review of the industry by the Office of Thrift Supervision documents a dramatic decline. Even the healthiest thrifts are showing an increase in losses and defaulted loans. And the number of those healthy thrifts is dwindling. In the recent survey, the OTS dropped 106 savings and loans from its list of well-capitalized and profitable institutions. Fewer than half the thrifts -- excluding those taken over by the government -- can now be considered in robust financial health.
An even darker portent: The rot is spreading from Texas and the Southwest to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. California, long considered the safest territory for the industry, is also feeling the pinch. Washington has yet to get serious about the savings and loan scandal.
Our national leaders may choose to whistle past the graveyard, but the data don't lie. The savings and loan industry is dying a slow and agonizing death. And the taxpayer must pay for its expensive funeral.