Special Reports - 2009 Best in Banking

Year in Quotes

The Industry in Its Own Words

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"There are a lot of people who have had their come-to-Jesus meeting in the last several months … . They see there are failures in the system; they see there are weaknesses in the system, and they see the possibility that some of these things can only be resolved and changed by governmental action."

Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee's capital markets subcommittee. Jan. 2

"Brokers are flocking to get FHA approval, or they're going out of business."

Scott Dodson, the president of Dallas consulting firm Federal Mortgage Licensing Inc. Jan. 7

"That advice might have been suitable in 1776 in Scotland, but it would be difficult to apply here in the modern United States."

Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve Board chairman, on the prospect of downsizing banks. Jan. 16

 

"These were careless mistakes. They were avoidable mistakes, but they were unintentional. I should have been more careful. I take full responsibility for them."

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing, discussing errors made on his tax returns. Jan. 21

 

"This is painful, but we are doing everything we can to manage through this process."

Donald H. Wilson, Amcore Financial Inc.'s then president and chief operating officer. He was ousted in April. Jan. 23

"It's a key opportunity for the industry that some banks have not realized. … The more banks that participate in the space, the more a consumer is going to think about going to a bank, not a remittance company" to send money.

Daniel Ayala, the senior vice president for global remittance services at Wells Fargo & Co. Feb. 3

"It scares me that we would have a single regulator. That's an important legislative issue for us — to make sure we have a choice."

Josef M. Vich, president and CEO, Community National Bancorp. in Waterloo, Iowa. Feb. 13

 

"We're trying to be a leader in our community, and leaders don't take a handout."

Greg Morse, Worthington National Bank's CEO, on why his Fort Worth bank did not take Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. Feb. 18.

"We've been talking about the last mile. I think we may be down to the last yard now."

Fred Herr, a senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, on the shift to check clearing by image. Feb. 26

"We will act to assure that our industry-funded reserves are adequate to cover our projected losses."

Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Feb. 27

"My bank is saying, 'Look, if you-all are saying this is for troubled banks, that's not us. We're in good shape.' So if that's the message, we'll just send them a check."

Rusty Cloutier, the president and CEO of MidSouth Bancorp Inc. in Lafayette, La., explaining why he was weighing repaying Tarp funds. March 2

 

"This is certainly not the time to assess new fees on banks. … We are already strained to the limit."

David Skiles, the president and CEO of the $240 million-asset First Peoples Bancorp Inc. in Port St. Lucie, Fla. March 2

"What more could they do to me? … They've already cut my pay, taken away my stock options and told me how to rewrite my mortgages."

Doyle Arnold, Zions Bancorp. chief financial officer, on whether the government might impose more restrictions if the company took additional government funds. March 6

 

"We need a systemic risk regulator … . The question is, who is going to perform that function?"

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd. March 12.

"It wouldn't be a great thing to nationalize a lot of banks that are perfectly healthy. That would be a terrible mistake."

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief executive. March 12

 

"In the offline world there are only really three global payment networks: Visa, American Express and MasterCard. And in the online world … we believe there will be only one winner. And that will be PayPal."

John Donahoe, eBay Inc.'s president and chief executive. March 13

 

"It is absolutely asinine that somebody would announce, 'We're going to do stress tests of banks, and we'll give you the answer in 12 weeks.' "

Wells Fargo Chairman Richard Kovacevich. March 13

 

"My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."

President Barack Obama at a White House meeting with bank CEOs. March 30

"Nobody knows what regulators are going to do. They took over Downey while it was well capitalized, but they haven't taken over BankUnited, which is down to 1.37% core capital, when it is supposed to be 5%."

Babette Heimbuch, the chairman and CEO of FirstFed Financial in Los Angeles. April 2. (BankUnited was seized in May.)

 

"The depth and severity of this downturn are due, I believe, to a more profound panic phenomenon."

Kevin Warsh, Federal Reserve Board governor. April 7

"We're seeing prepaid becoming much more attractive to a broader segment of the population. … The current economy is to prepaid what high gas prices were to hybrids. … This is a transformational event."

Mark Troughton, Green Dot's president of cards and network. April 8

"So long as we're reliant on two-part authentication — card and PIN — we're going to continue to struggle here in North America."

Rob Evans, director of industry marketing in NCR Corp.'s financial self-service group, explaining the limits of security measures. April 13

"Folks, it has become a scarlet letter."

JPMorgan Chase's Dimon, describing Tarp. April 17

"It is kind of like a garage sale."

Terry Keating, a managing director of Amherst Partners LLC, an investment banking firm in Chicago, on the trend for banks to raise capital by selling ancillary units. April 17

"We absolutely don't think we need additional capital. … We think we are fine, but again, this is in the hands of the regulators at the moment."

Ken Lewis, Bank of America CEO. April 20

 

"Despite the problems and the interpretations, the fact is that Tarp helped us."

James B. Miller Jr., Fidelity Southern Corp.'s chairman and CEO. April 22

"Some investors are apparently reluctant not because the economics of the program are unattractive but because of worries about what participation might lead to."

William Dudley, Federal Reserve Bank of New York president on the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility. April 20

 

"We're going to launch a new brand that is focused on responsible lending and successful homeownership."

Barbara Desoer, the president of Bank of America's mortgage, home equity and insurance services, after B of A dropped the Countrywide Financial Corp. brand. April 27

 

"I think we are now, more than ever, in the service business. We're trying to help people through the economic crisis."

Bryan Bruns, president, Annandale State Bank in Minnesota. April 28

"Unsecured consumer credit, mainly credit cards, is where you feel the teeth of this slowdown."

Joe Price, Bank of America's CFO. April 29

 

"Why is it in this country, in America, that we can find hundreds of billions of taxpayers' dollars … to come to the rescue of bad banking decisions, rotten investments, mortgages that were fraudulent on their face and can't summon the political will to do something about 8 million families in America that are going to face foreclosure?"

Sen. Richard Durbin, Senate majority whip, on the failure of mortgage bankruptcy legislation. May 1

 

"If modifications don't pick up, I think mortgage bankruptcy returns with a vengeance."

Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst at Washington Research Group. May 5

"While a carefully constructed safety net and a better resolution procedure for large institutions are critical, we also need to think about how to prevent such institutions from holding us hostage in the future. This may require breaking them up, limiting the activities or size, increasing capital requirements or taking other steps to limit the systemic risks they impose on the financial system."

Thomas Hoenig, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City president. May 5

 

"We didn't get anything out of the tests except a lot of unnecessary anxiety and speculation and worry about what's going to happen to some of these banks, all of which could have been avoided."

Robert Clarke, a senior partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, on the administration's stress tests. May 6

"I absolutely think the test was worth it. It's not the final word on the health of the banking industry, but it does provide an outside view of the top 19 banks."

Terry Moore, a managing director of North America banking for Accenture, on the stress tests. May 6

 

"We are trying to deal with a very important issue. Every day we delay is a day when people don't have protection from these abuses."

Sen. Dodd, on the importance of credit card reform. May 14

 

"You want to move at the point where people still have the memory of the trauma. If you wait for the memory to fade, then the impetus for reform will fade, and you will probably get less change than you need."

Treasury's Geithner, on regulatory reform. May 20

"The credit market will be smaller, more defined. … The fundamentals of making a credit decision — ability, stability and willingness to pay — there will be a lot more focus across the industry on those attributes and making the right choices of which customers you extend credit to. It's going to be a smaller market, but it still will be a very profitable market."

Ric Struthers, Bank of America's president of global card services, on the signing of the Credit Card Act. May 26

"We know what we've done wrong. I don't see how telling everyone that we are the dumb kids on the block is going to help us get back in shape."

Chuck Frost, First State Bank of Winchester's president and CEO. The Illinois bank failed in July. May 27

"All efforts, of which I am aware, at addressing ['too big to fail'] have drawbacks."

Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve chairman. June 4

 

"The threat was not what gave me concern. What gave me concern was they would make that threat to a bank in good standing."

Bank of America's Lewis, discussing regulatory pressure to complete his merger with Merrill. June 12

"Examiners have poked and prodded our portfolio. Everything we have has been written down to the worst-case scenario. There are no more 'hidden' assets."

Dan Dunlap, Heartland Bancshares Inc.'s president and CEO. June 16. (Heartland's Union Bank failed two months later.)

"You don't convene a committee to put out a fire."

Treasury's Geithner, on why systemic risk should not be policed by a council. June 18

"There is not a lot of confidence in the Fed at this point."

Sen. Dodd, arguing against giving systemic risk oversight to the Fed. June 18

"The idea of putting more and more power in the Federal Reserve is, in my judgment, a huge mistake. The Federal Reserve cannot be everything to everybody, cannot do everything and do it well as far as a financial regulator."

Sen. Richard Shelby, the No. 1 Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, on the same topic. June 18

 

"If we have institutions that are 'too big to fail,' have we not failed already, since they create a systemic risk … ? I saw the road you traveled here in trying to deal with that in terms of trying to increase capital requirements, but is that really sufficient to get to the heart" of the matter?

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to Secretary Geithner at a hearing on the administration's reg reform plan. June 19.

"When they separated the consumer compliance division from the bank supervision division, it just set up a dichotomy of examiners working against the interests of what's being done on either side."

Nicholas J. Ketcha Jr., managing director at FinPro and a former FDIC director of supervision, on regulators' attempts to separate prudential oversight from consumer protection. June 23

"Let me just be quite clear; there's something rotten in the cotton here."

Edolphus Towns, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman on the Fed's role in the B of A-Merrill merger. June 26

"It really feels like something simply designed to make it less attractive for private equity to invest."

Wilbur Ross, a prominent investor, on an FDIC plan to limit private-equity investment in failed banks. July 6

 

"Most financial institutions, particularly the big, systemically important ones, have all the capital they need. The problem, however, is [that] most of the capital is debt. There is not enough equity."

William Ackman, Pershing Square Capital Management's CEO. July 6

 

"I agree that we did not see the abuses as widespread as they were and were slow to react to them."

Donald Kohn, Federal Reserve Board vice chairman. July 10

"After our capital raise, we paid off Tarp, which was a glorious day, and after about three or four days we came down off the ceiling and got back to running the bank. It was seriously a very good feeling to have that done."

BB&T Corp. CEO Kelly King. July 17

 

"I was attempting to send a very strong message to Ken Lewis in terms of how strongly the Fed and Treasury viewed this matter."

Henry Paulson, former Treasury secretary, responding to accusations he pressured B of A to go through with its Merrill merger. July 17

 

"One of the greatest unused examples of power [was] the consumer protection powers we've given the Fed like the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act."

Barney Frank, House Financial Services Committee chairman. July 22

"We hear about glimmers of hope, to borrow the phrase, with respect to [the] economic and credit outlook, and while we know a recovery will be forthcoming, we're not looking for things to turn around quickly."

James Wells, SunTrust chairman and CEO. July 22

 

"I'm very open to discussing the role of the council. An important role is to coordinate regulation, to oversee risk. There may be situations where the council can have authority to harmonize certain practices or identify problems."

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, on whether a proposed interagency council to identify systemic risks should be strengthened. July 22

"Every time I go up there, I'm tripping over blue-suited lobbyists representing the banks. All the banking lobbyists are up there all over the place. They still have pull. It's the best Congress that money can buy as it relates to the Financial Services Committee."

John Taylor, the president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, on bank opposition to a proposed consumer protection agency. July 22.

 

"It's hard to just stand still and say we've thought all these things out and we can see how they come together … . I don't think anybody has totally, and I think that's our job before we go ahead and act."

Rep. Kanjorski, on a consumer financial protection agency. July 22

 

"Frankly, if I were the bankers, I would not invite a debate over whether or not I'd been all that great in the consumer area and whether or not people should just suffer, but if that's what they want, I think this is what we will have."

Rep. Frank, on the industry's pushback against a consumer financial protection agency. July 23.

 

"I don't know anyone besides Obama and Geithner who thinks the Fed is going to get all this new power."

Mark Calabria, the director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute, on regulatory reform. July 23.

"The oversight council described in the administration's proposal currently lacks sufficient authority to effectively address systemic risks. Bringing multiple perspectives together is going to strengthen it, not weaken it."

FDIC Chairman Bair. July 24.

"Federally chartered banks would be subject to the multiplicity of state operating standards because the proposal sweepingly repeals the ability of national banks to conduct any retail banking business."

John Dugan, comptroller of the currency, on the administration's proposal to repeal preemption. July 24

 

"There's often no consistency in what they're doing from one month to the next, or from one loan to the next."

Paul Molinaro, a partner in the Fransen & Molina law firm in Corona, Calif., on servicers' modification efforts. July 24

"If you give this agency only rule-writing authority and not enforcement, it will be too weak."

Treasury's Geithner, on the proposed consumer protection agency. July 27

"I expect the House to pass this in September/October. … I think it is overwhelmingly likely the Senate will get this bill in October and the president will sign the package before the end of the year."

Rep. Frank, on regulatory reform. July 28.

"You can't push out $3 trillion and not expect someone to take advantage of it."

Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for Tarp. July 29

"We planned for your typical recession. No amount of due diligence, though, could have predicted the macroeconomic environment. We didn't expect the complete collapse of the housing market, a complete closing of the capital markets, a complete changing of the landscape."

Gerald R. Francis, a managing director of FSI Group LLC, who invested $40 million in Security Bank Corp. a year before it failed. Aug. 3

 

"I have always acknowledged, both privately and publicly, that the regulators are independent and have every right to hold and express their particular views. While they have existing authorities that they feel compelled to protect, we have shared goals and a tremendous amount of common ground."

Treasury's Geithner, responding to criticism of his obscenity-laden dressing-down of bank regulators. Aug. 7

"The mark-to-market of a deposit is par, and to say otherwise is absurd. Deposits don't trade, there is no observable market, and they're mostly a function of how aggressive a bank's management wants to be in terms of growing or maintaining liabilities in that particular class instead of the alternatives. FASB has to hold back from this idiocy and just admit there are certain things we can't know."

Christopher Whalen, Institutional Risk Analytics managing director. Aug. 14

"I do think that community banks could use less supervision and examination than very large financial firms offering a wide range of complex products."

Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr, on whether a CFPA would regulate all institutions equally. Aug. 17

 

"FHA was 5% of the market, and overnight it became 30%, and it didn't have one dime more for staff or IT systems. Everybody said FHA couldn't handle the volume, and guess what? We did. Can you imagine what would happen right now if we didn't have FHA?"

Brian Montgomery, the former FHA commissioner, who left the agency in July. Aug. 20

"Liquidity risk management at the level of the firm, no matter how carefully done, can never fully protect against systemic events. In a sufficiently severe panic, funding problems will almost certainly arise and are likely to spread in unexpected ways. Only central banks are well positioned to offset the ensuing sharp decline in liquidity and credit provision by the private sector."

Fed Chairman Bernanke. Aug. 24

 

"The goal is to hold off on foreclosures and take losses as slowly as possible to keep balance sheets up."

Deborah Voelz, the chief financial officer of National Asset Direct Inc., a New York buyer and servicer of distressed loans, on why banks and servicers have been dragging out foreclosures. Aug. 26

"I haven't given that a second's worth of thought."

Sen. Dodd, on whether he would remain chairman of the banking panel after the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy. Aug. 27

"We expect the numbers of problem banks and failures will remain elevated, even as the economy begins to recover."

FDIC Chairman Bair. Aug. 28

 

"The authorities did not heed my warning when I predicted a tsunami of residential foreclosures in March 2007. I am now deeply concerned about a tsunami of commercial real estate foreclosures and what actions we are taking to avoid that."

Sen. Menendez. Sept. 1

 

"The real question isn't about what new products Fannie and Freddie are going to offer, it's whether or not we're going to still have a Fannie and Freddie."

Washington Research Group's Seiberg. Sept. 3

"Today, I believe, because of comprehensive policy actions put in place since then, we are back from the edge of the abyss."

Treasury's Geithner, on government action during the crisis. Sept. 10

"The investors are the ones who are going to lose money. We have no idea whether servicers are making the right decisions in modifying loans."

Michael Henriques, a principal at the Magnetar Capital LLC hedge fund, criticizing the administration's Home Affordable Modification Program, which pays incentives to servicers that rewrite loan terms. Sept. 15

"We have a construction loan portfolio that is a piece of crap."

Mitchell Feiger, the president and CEO of MB Financial in Chicago. Sept. 15

"I'd suggest those ads are the financial regulatory equivalent to the death panel ads being run with respect to health care. Those without a good argument try to scare people … ; that's what is happening here."

Lawrence Summers, head of the National Economic Council, on Chamber of Commerce ads claiming a consumer protection agency would regulate butchers and bakers. Sept. 18

"We're not the new subprime by any stretch."

Dave Stevens, FHA commissioner. Sept. 21

"There's no question it gave new life to an age-old debate around 'too big to fail.' Some institutions get so large, complex, interconnected, leveraged or otherwise, that they pose a risk to the system that it can't take."

Diana Farrell, deputy director of the National Economic Council, on Tarp's impact. Sept. 23

 

"There will be death panels enacted by this Congress, but they will be for nonbank financial institutions … ; we are talking about dissolutions, not resolutions."

Rep. Frank. Sept. 24

"The good news is that the Federal Reserve actually knows something about the banking system, [as] opposed to Chris Dodd."

William A. Cooper, TCF Financial's chairman and CEO. Oct. 22

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