WASHINGTON -- The banking industry's biggest bear isn't some Wall Street guru. It's William Taylor, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., and critics say it is about time that he lightened up.

Industry earnings are at all-time highs, problem loans are leveling off, and bank stocks are soaring. Yet Mr. Taylor, halfway through a 17-month term, continues to run his regulatory ship like a captain bracing for a hurricane.

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