lead a newly created division at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Mr. Murton, 38, is director of insurance - a curious title in light of the fact the agency's main mission is insuring bank and thrift deposits. But since taking the FDIC helm a year ago, Ms. Helfer has made figuring out what went wrong in the early 1990s a high priority. She wants this insurance division to identify future risks to the bank and thrift funds. In an interview last week, Mr. Murton said he plans by January to have 25 people on staff who will cull information from the FDIC's supervision, research, and legislative departments, as well as from other regulatory agencies, to assess emerging risks threatening the two funds. "We'll be looking at the forest rather than the trees," Mr. Murton said. "One of the lessons emerging from the '80s is that we really would have benefited from a broader view of the risks." Mr. Murton, a nine-year FDIC veteran, spent the last three years as deputy director of the agency's research and statistics division. When he came aboard in 1986, Mr. Murton planned to work at the agency for a year and then return to the University of Virginia to finish his PhD in economics. Instead, he was drawn into the middle of the Texas banking crisis as part of a team sent out to analyze bank failures. "Things got pretty exciting, and I ended up staying," Mr. Murton said. As a consequence, his dissertation wasn't finished until 1992. Drawing on his Texas experience, Mr. Murton created a model that predicted how much it cost the government to liquidate an average bank. The model became an important part of the FDIC's policies for shutting down banks, Mr. Murton said. He also played a significant role in setting up the risk-based premium system, which in 1993 began charging riskier banks more for deposit insurance.
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