Although Bill Clinton was not the preferred candidate of most bankers, the industry chose to view his election in a positive light.
"I went to bed [Tuesday night] feeling pretty good about the fact that things will be all right despite the fact that my man didn't win," said John F. McGillicuddy, chairman and chief executive of Chemical Banking Corp.
While many said they wanted to know more about Mr. Clinton's banking policies, there was a consensus that the industry would benefit if he achieves his economic goals. "It is clear that Gov. Clinton is going to focus on creating jobs and getting the economy moving," said Donald G. Ogilvie, executive vice president of the American Bankers Association. "If he is successful, that is going to be good for banks and good for bank customers."
Many bankers expressed hope that Mr. Clinton can eliminate legislative gridlock now that the Democrats control the presidency
and Congress, and that he would be willing to roll back some regulations.
On the downside, many bankers believe Mr. Clinton's election will lead to higher interest rates and closer scrutiny of community reinvestment.
To gauge reaction to Mr. Clinton's victory, the American Banker on Wednesday conducted interviews with more than a dozen bankers and other industry observers.
Following is a sampling of their comments.
John F. McGILLICUDDY Chairman and CEO Chemical Banking Corp.
Gov. Clinton's responses to questions about banking during the campaign were "very constructive," Mr. McGillicuddy said. "Nothing that he has said strikes terror in my heart."
Mr. McGillicuddy held out hope that a Democratic Congress would work with Mr. Clinton to pass some "much-needed legislation," including interstate banking and expanded securities powers.
"If the President-elect is serious in terms of unlocking the economy, he really would have to do it with a fortified banking system, and that would take legislation," Mr. McGillicuddy said. "Clinton should view [interstate branching] as an easy one in terms of helping the banking industry."
Chemical itself would be only "moderately impacted" by interstate banking legislation, Mr. McGillicuddy said, adding that his bank is more eager for full investment banking and mutual fund powers.
Mr. McGillicuddy, noting that the secretary of the Treasury will be the key appointment for bankers to watch, indicated strong support for former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.
"I would want someone who's experienced in a broad array of financial issues, who has an international as well as a domestic view. Certainly Paul Volcker would fill that role, and give instant credibility to any new administration."
Roger M. Beverage President Oklahoma Bankers Association
"Clinton's victory is going to be helpful in some respects and perhaps not in others. For example, I think he is going to continue to be supportive of our efforts to reduce the struggle bankers have with paperwork.
"On the other hand, I think he is going to insist on more community involvement. But I think he is going to be more interested in the concerns of smaller banks. I'm not sure Bush was as concerned about that as Clinton will be."
James B. Watt President Conference of State Bank Supervisors
"We think a Clinton administration will be much more positive for the dual banking system. We are looking for a much more sympathetic administration. He has seen firsthand how well it works in Arkansas, and he is very community oriented.
"We are very pleased with his attitude. He has shown so far that he is definitely not big-bank or small-bank oriented. His notion of putting these community development banks around the country is a natural in terms of a state banking system."
John D. Hawke Former regulator, now partner Arnold & Porter, Washington
"Clinton's community development bank is a very good idea. It ought to be viewed not, as he suggests, as satisfying a small portion of a bank's Community Reinvestment Act requirements. It ought to satisfy 100%.
"The notion of a system of community development banks really ought to be substituted for CRA because it will provide a proactive force for things now done only grudgingly under CRA."
Michelle Meier Counsel for government affairs Consumers Union, Washington
"I think this whining from the banking industry on regulatory burden will get less play with an administration that isn't used to the |get the government off our back' theme song.
"I certainly think the outlook is a lot brighter for consumers and communities that care about the Community Reinvestment Act and housing. It is a positive sign that Clinton knows about CRA and embraces it, while the past administration was happy to see it written off the books. "Anything is better than the Bush administration on these issues. Exactly how much better Clinton is going to be remains to be seen.
"To the extent he is preserving state authority, that's a good sign. We very much oppose pre-empting state law that is stronger in protecting consumers."
Richard Parsons Chairman and CEO Dime Savings Bank Of New York
Mr. Parsons, a self-described Rockefeller Republican, said the Clinton people appear "smart enough" to know that they have to work with banks if they want to get the economy moving again.
"It's hard for me to envision how things could get worse," he said, referring to the impasse created between Congress and the Bush administration on bank regulatory and legislative issues.
As far as the effects of the election on Dime, Mr. Parsons expressed hope that the new appointees will "think through the government approach to the real estate market" in terms of taxes and other policies.
Mr. Parsons, who worked on the Reagan transition team in 1980, said bankers will lobby hard over the next few months to influence key cabinet and regulatory agency appointments.
"A lot will depend on who Bill Clinton selects as his Treasury secretary, the person who will be the architect of rebuilding the economy," said Mr. Parsons.
He said the two names touted today as favorites for the Treasury post are Sen. Lloyd Bentsen of Texas and Fed Vice Chairman David Mullins, whose official residence is in Mr. Clinton's home state of Arkansas.
L. William Seidman Former chairman Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"Clinton can prove to be a real hero by pushing the Bush banking bill. I suspect when he gets into the matter, he will decide that's the best course. I think he will soon find, after talking to his advisers, that banking reform is a very high priority. But maybe the wish is father to the thought.
"I think interest rates are going up, but I think they were going up regardless of who was elected. I suspect he will move [to make regulatory appointments], but I will be surprised if the actual people will be in place before the fall."
J. Terrence Murray Chairman and CEO Fleet Financial Group
A Clinton presidency can only mean good things for the Northeast and for his banking company, Mr. Murray believes.
The executive said Mr. Clinton was the only presidential candidate to offer cogent plans to help the region's ailing economy.
"The key is to encourage new investment in the form of business development, manufacturing, and capital expenditures," he said.
Mr. Murray applauded Mr. Clinton's plans to sharply cut defense spending, even though New England, particularly Rhode Island and Connecticut, depends heavily on it.
While the cuts could mean reduced employment in the short run, Mr. Murray believes new jobs could be created if the government uses the money saved to promote the development of new industries and technologies.
"We're not going to be building subs in the year 2000 so it doesn't matter whether we build them here on somewhere else," Mr. Murray said.
He said a Clinton presidency might mean banks would have to devote more time to community reinvestment, particularly if the industry is granted such sought-after powers as interstate branching. But he said banks would gladly comply if Clinton is successful in turning the economy around.
"Without a healthy economy, there is nothing to talk about," he said.
Dennis C. Bottorff President and CEO First American Corp. Nashville
"The effect of Clinton's victory on the banking industry is somewhat uncertain in that he's talked a great deal about the importance of the banking industry, especially [with regard to] job creation. But the only specific I've seen is his support and commitment to smaller banks, especially those that would be in urban areas lending money into the central cities.
"I think it is good that we've got the President of the U.S. from Arkansas and the Vice President from Tennessee. And the fact that the incoming president of the American Bankers Association is from Arkansas suggests we would certainly have people in the leadership area who are very familiar with the geography in which we do business. So that can't do anything but help us."
Jeffrey R. Springer President Citizens Bank, Laurel, Md.
"I guess I really have a split personality on this. There's a piece of me that says I should be optimistic: We now have someone with somewhat of a man-date and friendly Congress. But if Clinton's programs are illogical and ill-conceived, then we just have someone with more power and no brains."
Philippe Blavier CEO for U.S. operations Banque Paribas
Mr. Blavier welcomed Clinton's election but said he would be watching Clinton's tax program closely.
"I'm bullish on his program to jump-start the economy," Mr. Blavier said.
He added that any improvement in the U.S. economy, coupled with falling interest rates in Europe and Japan, could help drag other economies out of their current slump.
Mr. Blavier said he doubted whether Clinton's tax program would significantly affect foreign banks.
"I believe the team that surrounds the President-elect is pragmatic and reasonable, and I have no special fear regarding an overly aggressive program against foreign interests," Mr. Blavier said.
Donald G. Ogilvie Executive vice president American Bankers Association
"My sense is that he has been stressing positive signals regarding the economy, indicating he wants to uncrunch credit. He is willing to look at the regulatory environment to see if there are things the Clinton administration should do to encourage fewer regulations and get more money into people's hands."