The FDIC reported this week that bank profits in the first quarter of 2012 increased to $35.3 billion, the highest level in almost five years going back to the second quarter of 2007 (see chart above, data here).   That represents a 23% gain from the first quarter last year, and a 38% improvement from the previous quarter.  In other signs of improvements in the banking industry's financial condition, noncurrent loan rates and net chargeoff rates decreased in the first quarter this year compared to the same quarter last year, and in both cases there were decreases for all three loan categories: real estate, business and consumer.