Dec 13, 2013
Truthdigger of the Week: Sheila Bair
Posted on Oct 13, 2012
Few voices in the regulatory community called for the expulsion of derelict executives and the means to force banks to lend bailout money to the public amid the 2008 financial crisis. Former FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair was among them.
Bair, a Republican, joined the Washington, D.C., staff of then-Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., in 1981. Within a decade she was overseeing the derivatives market under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton as part of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and served as head of the FDIC under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Her new book, “Bull by the Horns,” is an account of the Bush and Obama administrations’ response to the 2008 meltdown.
As leader of the FDIC during that period, Bair was witness to the efforts that Treasury Secretaries Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner made to save the individuals and banks that were most responsible for the crisis, while leaving American homeowners and taxpayers high and dry. The New York Times’ Gretchen Morgenson, who hailed Bair’s book as an “important piece of history and a rebuttal to the conventional wisdom,“ offered a sample from it:
Bair failed to bring about regulation that held the executives of those banks responsible. Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, whom she lobbied to have fired for failing to reform the bank’s investment and lending practices, remains chief of his company. The bailed out banks continue to sit on the cash they were given to get the American economy started again, and Bair’s former colleagues in the regulatory community on the whole continue to go easy on the corporations that the American people trust them to govern.
For her attempts to defend the public against her negligent and exploitative peers, and for enlarging our understanding of what was and continues to be a crucial time in American history, we honor Sheila Bair as our Truthdigger of the Week.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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