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The Times We Live in

This is the latest from our new bailout blog. Check out our all-seeing database of the bailout billions.

The Phoenix Companies, like other life insurers, has been waiting its turn at the TARP trough. It jumped through all the necessary hoops set up by the Treasury Department to qualify, including the requirement that it buy a small bank (since the money is only going to federally regulated institutions). But time was not on its side. For months, Treasury dragged its feet on whether insurers would be getting TARP money. And finally, the Hartford Business Journal reports, the tiny troubled Missouri bank that this Connecticut-based insurer had agreed to purchase in order to get bailed out collapsed:

A Missouri-based bank, which The Phoenix Cos. agreed to purchase earlier this year to qualify for federal bailout money, has been taken over by federal regulators, forcing the Hartford insurer to reassess its eligibility for the Treasury's capital purchase program.

American Sterling Bank, a $184 million-asset lender based in Sugar Creek, Mo., was closed Friday by the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed as its receiver. The FDIC also entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Metcalf Bank, another Missouri-based bank, to assume all $172 million in deposits of American Sterling.

A Phoenix spokeswoman tells the paper that the company is "considering our options" -- which presumably include finding another bank that will survive long enough to get bailed out.