The FDIC's Skip Hove on Life in D.C.

American Banker: Are you surprised by anything here? Skip Hove: Not really surprised. There have been some real eye-openers.

AB: Like what? SH: The size of the losses that we've had, and some of the issues we've had to deal with in the institutions we've had to close. I'm troubled at the lack of ethics and character in a few institutions. This is generally not a problem. But in some of them we've seen a severe lack of character.

AB: Give us an example. SH: Most have been S&Ls. The Charles Keatings, the Don Dixons, the unfortunate situations that have given the entire industry a bad name.

AB: Speaking of the Don Dixons of the world, isn't the FDIC punishing all bank directors for the crimes of a few by proposing new curbs on their activities? SH: The problem is, you can't pass a rule affecting 3% of the people. You have to pass a rule that is the same for everybody. The alternative is not to have any regulation and when you have the abuse, everybody pays [because of impact on the BIF.] Given the alternative, I'd just as soon have the regulation.

AB: But when you were a banker, didn't you ever grouse about the damn regulations? SH: Absolutely. I think we have way too many regulations. But I don't know how you get rid of them. There are some really crazy regulations.

AB: When you came here from banking, in the back of your mind didn't you think that you could do something about this? SH: Sure. I thought, "I'll get rid of some of these silly regulations." But when you really see them, see the reason, it's a little difficult.

AB: After being here a year, if you could wave a magic wand and change the way banks are regulated, what would you do.? SH: I think the FDIC is a very efficient organization with lots of good people. It's an organization funded by the banks, and they've gotten a lot of bang for the dollar. It has given them the security of an insurance fund so they've been able to attract deposits into the banking industry throughout a whole lot of changes in economic conditions.

But while we've done that, we've had a whole lot of regulations, and we continue to get regulations.

PHOTO : Andrew C. "Skip" Hove Jr.

Andrew C. "Skip" Hove Jr. was a Nebraska banker for 40 years before coming to Washington as a board member and vice chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Back when he was chairman and chief executive of Minden (Neb.) Exchange Bank and Trust Co., he thought that there were too many regulations - and that if he ever had the chance, he'd do away with some of them.

Well, he's had the chance. But getting rid of regulations, he tells Washington bureau chief Jim McTague, is a lot more difficult than writing them.

Mr. Hove, whose term expires in 1993, has been on the board for a little over a year. During the past two weeks, he served as acting FDIC chairman until William Taylor was sworn in Friday.

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