FDIC Chairperson Shares Her Insights
Fuqua’s Distinguished Speaker Series has brought some of corporate America’s most heralded scions to campus in an effort to strengthen its ties with those companies in the best position to benefit the university. Indeed, even Wall Street CEOs have taken the trip down to Durham to share with Fuquans the fruits of their many years of experience.
However, in early February, FDIC chairperson Sheila Bair arrived, to shepherd a panel discussion on Financial Regulatory Reform, one that added a fresh perspective.
Whereas many prognosticators have been quick to assign blame and turn the discourse black and white, Ms. Bair depicted the crisis in shades of gray: many parties were at fault, and as such, regulatory reform is going to be a gradual, complicated process, involving the participation of groups who may have no natural inclination to work together. Further, she spoke of a need for increased accountability and long term, strategic thinking in the financial services industry, citing a “pass the buck” mentality as a principle cause of the financial crisis.
Underlying Ms. Bair’s obvious credibility and experience was a sense of humility not often seen in the upper ranks of government, attributable to a modest upbringing and mentorship from former Kansas Senator Bob Dole. Indeed, it is this worldly perspective that has enabled her to be successful during her tenure as FDIC chair, allowing her to identify the concerns of all parties affected by the financial crisis, and permitting her to work with individuals of all political persuasions in order to affect positive change. In the years leading up to the subprime meltdown, she was the one objective voice of reason in a sea of bad investments; according to Dean Blair Sheppard, this made her a veritable “Leader of Consequence.”