Sheila Bair, the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., will deliver the keynote address at American Banker's 2008 Banker of the Year Awards.

Ms. Bair has emerged as a pivotal policymaker on issues that reach into every corner of banking, while her agency has had to contend with a mounting list of failed institutions. In arranging the sale of Washington Mutual Inc.'s banking operation to JPMorgan Chase & Co., the FDIC dealt with the largest banking failure in the nation's history at no cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund.

Ms. Bair advocated for, and won, the addition of a provision in the federal government's financial rescue bill that temporarily raised the cap on FDIC-insured deposits to $250,000 per account. She then went a step further, using regulatory powers to temporarily guarantee bank debt and insure all deposits that do not bear interest. Additionally, she was a key participant in the Treasury Department's decision to inject capital into U.S. financial institutions.

Ms. Bair has also been at the forefront of a debate on how to deal with the nation's mortgage crisis. She was an early and forceful advocate for a systemic approach to loan modifications. She has also called for stronger regulation of mortgage brokers and assignee liability for lenders, and she has proposed that the federal government lend directly to borrowers to prevent foreclosures.

Before joining the FDIC in 2006, Ms. Bair was the Dean's Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst's Isenberg School of Management.

She has also served as assistant secretary for financial institutions at the Treasury Department; senior vice president for government relations of the New York Stock Exchange; a commissioner and acting chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; and counsel to Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole. While an academic, Ms. Bair served on the FDIC's Advisory Committee on Banking Policy.

Previous Banker of the Year Awards speakers include former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, Sen. Tim Johnson, Reps. Barney Frank and Mike Oxley, former FDIC Chairman and Katrina recovery czar Don Powell, New York Superintendent of Banking Diana Taylor, and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

The dinner will be held Dec. 4 at the Plaza Hotel in New York.

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