Donna A. Tanoue capped off an international conference on deposit insurance here last week by proposing that regulators worldwide form a consortium to share ideas and experiences.
"Such a consortium would have the mission of acting as a clearing house for information, coordinating education and training, and providing technical assistance to countries creating or refining their deposit insurance systems," the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman said Friday.
"In talking informally, many of you supported this ... in other words, keeping our conversation going after this conference closes."
Ms. Tanoue's speech fit squarely with the agency's humble approach to the three-day affair, at which FDIC officials tried to serve as moderators rather than instructors.
Roughly 240 government officials from more than 60 countries convened here last week for the FDIC's conference, which featured speeches by heavyweights like Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers and workshops in which officials from Japan, Mexico, Thailand, and other countries tried to draw lessons from recent banking crises.
Despite the vast diversity of its participants, several common themes emerged at the conference.
Lesson 1: A solid legal system and political stability are prerequisites for financial stability. Russia-which lacks basic property rights and continues to undergo a turbulent transition to democracy and a market economy-was an oft-cited example of this principle and its challenges.
Lesson 2: There is a trade-off between stability and moral hazard. If bank supervisors are too quick to close ailing institutions, former FDIC Chairman Ricki Helfer said, they risk puncturing public confidence. Yet if officials continually prop up sick banks, crooked or crazy bankers may feel emboldened to take unwarranted risks.
Lesson 3: Despite flaws, America's deposit insurance and bank supervisory systems are global models. Foreign officials continually cited the reforms enacted by Congress in the wake of the 1980s bank and thrift crises. Foreign delegates flawlessly reeled off terms such as "prompt corrective action" and "risk-adjusted premiums."
Several U.S. speakers, including Ms. Helfer, pointed out that America's banking reforms have yet to be tested by a domestic banking crisis.
But as Richard Lewis, general manager of Trinidad and Tobago's deposit insurance corporation, said during a stroll past the White House, when he has questions, he picks up the phone and dials the FDIC.