Washington - Bank industry representatives applauded President Clinton's choice of Robert Rubin to take over the Department of the Treasury, describing him as an influential policy maker with a strong background in financial services.

"He has a very solid reputation, very solid on the issues," said Edward L. Yingling, chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association.

"It's always important to have a strong player at Treasury," he added. "That's our main point of input into the administration."

Mr. Yingling said Mr. Rubin's views were generally in line with those of the industry, with the possible exception of bank securities underwriting.

While co-chairman of Goldman, Sachs & Co. before joining the administration, he shared his firm's strong opposition to Glass-Steagall repeal. "He's wearing a different hat now, so we'll just have to see," Mr. Yingling said.

If confirmed by the Senate as treasury secretary, Mr. Rubin will probably have a former banker as his top deputy. An administration source said he has a good relationship with Deputy Treasury Secretary Frank Newman, who came to the administration from Bank of America. As a result, this source said, Mr. Newman is all but certain to stay on.

Kenneth A. Guenther, executive vice president of the Independent Bankers Association of America, praised Mr. Rubin and said his organization has maintained a good relationship with the National Economic Council, which Mr. Rubin headed.

"The National Economic Council is one of the elements of the White House that worked," said Mr. Guenther.

Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig praised outgoing Secretary Lloyd Bentsen as a "fabulous treasury secretary" and lauded Mr. Rubin as one who "comes right out of the financial services industry." Mr. Bentsen, who has been widely expected to leave for some time, told a gathering of senior aides Tuesday that in September he had expressed a wish to President Clinton to leave by the end of the year.

During his tenure, Congress approved funding for the savings and loan bailout, passed interstate branching, and enacted an omnibus bill that reduced bank regulation and provided incentives for community development banks.

Mr. Bentsen's department was bruised badly in a fight with the Federal Reserve Board and most of the banking industry, however, over legislation to consolidate the regulatory agencies.

In the end, Treasury conceded defeat and withdrew the bill. It is considered unlikely to come up again next year.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.