Sheila Bair, ex-FDIC chief, sees mortgage inertia

October 18, 2011|Andrew S. Ross

For two years running, Sheila Bair was named one of the most powerful women in the world, second only to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Forbes magazine. She’s also been described as one of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner‘s “least favorite people in government.”

When the former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. got up to speak at theNational Asian American Coalition conference in South San Francisco on Monday, a local bank executive said to me that he trusted Bair wouldn’t continue “beating us up.”

Well … Bair walked the audience through what she described as a lot of “painful memories” of her five years at the FDIC. Painful, chiefly because of the hard time she had convincing anyone who would listen that the predatory practices in subprime lending during the go-go years of the mid 2000s were not only proving disastrous for millions of homeowners, but would wreak havoc on banks her agency oversaw.

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