With regulators catching flak for taking too long to close "zombie" institutions, the failure of United Western Bank seemed atypically quick.

The $2 billion-asset thrift had become undercapitalized only at the end of the third quarter. And by late last week it had lined up $149 million of the $200 million it needed. Regulators seized United on Friday anyway, surprising observers who have watched undercapitalized banks limp along for much longer than three months.

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