KEYSTONE, W. Va.â€”The regulators, packed in vans and cars, poured into this small Appalachian coal-mining town on Sept. 1, 1999, swelling its population by 10%. As stunned local residents looked on, they shuttered the financial institution that had become, quite literally, the lifeblood of their community. Throughout the 1990s, the First National Bank of Keystone was hailed as one of the top-performing banks in the nation. With a strategy focused on buying, packaging, and selling subprime loans on a national basis, it grew from a small community bank with $102 million in assets in 1992 to a $1.1 billion-asset behemoth...
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John R. Engen is a freelance writer and a contributor to Bank Director magazine.