The banking sector has acted a bit like the canary in the coal mine during the current economic and market malaise. In Oklahoma’s relatively robust economy, the air has been pretty clean. As more than 100 banks have failed this year, just one state-based bank has been closed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Gary Simpson, an Oklahoma State University finance professor, termed the hundreds of Oklahoma bank failures in the 1980s "economic Darwinism” that produced a generation of prudent, sophisticated and efficient bankers, who have been blessed by a local economy that is faring better than most of the country. "In Oklahoma, the big story is what didn’t happen,” Simpson said. "It’s not a very exciting story.” Unexciting is fine with Oklahoma bankers, who prefer to maintain their relatively conservative practices that allowed them to avoid exposure to the most toxic assets that brought down banks large and small in other parts of the country. In the most recent quarter, more than one of every four U.S. banks failed to turn a profit. In Oklahoma, 93.5 percent of banks were profitable. While the nation’s banks were losing billions, Oklahoma’s were making millions. "It’s clear that the nation’s commercial banks and thrifts will continue to face some challenges in the months ahead, but Oklahoma banks remain strong,” said Marty Hansen, chairman of the Oklahoma Bankers Association. This is not to say that Sooner banks, thrifts and credit unions escaped the economic upheaval unscathed. Profits were trimmed, and the amount of troubled loans grew, but the vast majority of Oklahoma banks are solid, according to Oklahoma Banking Association President Roger Beverage. It was similar for the state’s four publicly traded banks, which range from the very small — Osage Bancshares — to a $2.5 billion regional bank holding company — BOK Financial Corp. The other two state-based publicly traded bank companies, BancFirst Corp. and Southwest Bancorp, are among the state’s largest banks. While BOK Financial rose to the top 10 in the Oklahoma Inc. rankings, its peers did not perform poorly. Osage (17th), Southwest Bancorp (21st), and BancFirst (22nd) all fell in the middle of the pack among the state’s publicly traded companies. Among the publicly traded banks, only BOK managed to boost earnings during the 12-month period evaluated. "I would guess that Oklahoma rates in the top five states in performance,” Beverage said.