So if Bank of Clark County was so well run, why did it fail?
“The bank was heavily involved in the development of the community,” (President of the Columbia River Economic Development Council Bart) Phillips said. “The recession hits, and there are casualties. And this is one of the very unfortunate casualties.”
As the article notes, a lot of Vancouver’s top citizens seem to really like the people who ran Bank of Clark County, which is fine. There’s no reason to think they weren’t good at the business of banking itself.
Plus they love puppies, which is very sweet and utterly beside the point. I get that nobody wants to kick any individuals when they are down, but talk about circling the wagons. Nobody even touches on any of the core financial issues.
There’s almost a sense in the article that the economic calamity now striking us is some vague, mysterious outside force like a natural disaster, rather than the highly predictable outcome of neglect by federal regulators in the financial sector combined with pro-sprawl policies locally. Maybe being too heavily exposed to construction and speculative real estate was considered acceptable best bank practice for the last decade, but it sure in the hell can’t be acceptable going forward if we want to avoid a repeat of this mess.
Easy credit allowed for building booms that led to unsustainable sprawl. People have been trying to point out for a very long time in Clark County that we can’t afford sprawl, either environmentally or economically, but nobody ever listens to the DFH. When your economy is based on growth never stopping, when it stops (as it inevitably must) you are in the deep end of the pool with no water wings.
That’s where we are now. Whether it winds up being a teachable moment for at least some of the bidness guys and gals remains to be seen. The irony is that the local BIAW has the county commission locked up for the next four years, and appears to be taking aim at the Vancouver City Council. So they may actually be able to continue their assault on environmental regulations, but with few people buying much of anything, it starts to look like a Pyrrhic victory.