A year has passed since L. William Seidman occupied the chairman's office at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., but his views are still in demand.
Mr. Seidman comments on the business world every day on cable television's CNBC. A book on his tangles as FDIC chief is scheduled for release Father's Day. And he gets $20,000 a pop for giving speeches all over the world.
The former regulator also retains a reputation as the straightest shooter in America. Last week at a conference, political commentator David Gergen introduced Mr. Seidman this way: "He's one of the most honest men in Washington, perhaps the only honest man."
It was Election Day and the American Stock Exchange had hired Mr. Seidman to share his perspective on the contest.
Mr. Seidman had this advice for Bill Clinton: Cut the budget before spending tons of money on new government programs.
"The question is will he make the Carter mistake?" Mr. Seidman mused, explaining that the former President was victimized by inflation because he increased government spending without first trimming the budget.
"You can't do it in that order," he said. "If he doesn't do that he has no chance of getting the budget back on track, absolutely no chance."
But Mr. Seidman has faith that President-elect Clinton will do the right thing.
"Clinton is too smart to get totally into a position where the markets are saying he is blowing the budget," Mr. Seidman said. "It is my expectation that he will not try to pump up the economy with a huge public spending program."
Mr. Seidman also predicted that Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan will cuddle up to Mr. Clinton early on.
"He has the greatest bedside manners of any economist I've ever seen," Mr. Seidman said of Mr. Greenspan. "I think Greenspan will work very hard to establish a relationship with Clinton and I have to tell you he is very good at it."
Mr. Seidman took some time at the start to dispute the claim that the banking industry is headed for a collapse.
Improved Industry Health
"Those predictions are wrong," Mr. Seidman said flatly. He said none of the 10 major banks that the FDIC last year feared would fail - at great cost to the insurance fund - pose a risk anymore.
The gap between short- and long-term interest rates will persist, Mr. Seidman predicted. This is because the demand for capital is increasing at the same time supply is shrinking.
More countries, including Mexico and much of Latin America, can command credit now so the cost of money is being bid up, he explained. On the flip side, money suppliers like Japan and Germany are turning off the credit spigot.