Fond Farewells

It is something of an understatement to say that, during the financial crisis, members of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s board of directors have not always seen eye to eye.

But all differences were pushed aside last week to honor Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, whose last day in office was Friday.

Dugan, who stepped down after five years as comptroller, has frequently been at loggerheads with FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair and other senior agency officials over various issues. But as he bid farewell, and was recognized by a special board resolution, Dugan said those disagreements were healthy.

"The fact is, I did agree with most things we did. And where I didn't we had honest differences of views that I hope helped shape the outcome in a positive way in the end," he said.

If there were any hard feelings, none emerged. Martin Gruenberg, the FDIC's vice chairman, who knew Dugan when the two were staff members of the Senate Banking Committee in the '80s, praised Dugan's approach to policy debates.

"While John and I have not always agreed on every issue, I have found him to be an uncommonly thoughtful and effective public servant with a real passion for grappling with challenging public policy problems and a willingness to listen carefully and respectfully to views on all sides of an issue," Gruenberg said.

Bair called Dugan "a team player."

"You've fostered interagency cooperation to ensure safe and sound banking practices, compliance with consumer protection and anti-money-laundering laws and forward-looking banking policies and the orderly resolution of failed banks," she said. "You've demonstrated through your actions and words your respect and admiration for the expertise of the dedicated men and women of the FDIC. I believe we have benefited greatly from your service. We will miss you, and we wish you every luck in your future endeavors."

For his part, Dugan credited Bair for the agency's adeptness at handling the onslaught of failed banks.

"The FDIC has done an outstanding job going into this crisis with several different dimensions of it," he said. "The agency used a lot of its institutional knowledge from the 1980s but implemented it with a lot of … aggressive, creative efforts to address some of the most difficult problems that one could have imagined coming into this job. Madame Chairman, that is really a comment directed at you. I think you have been exceptionally creative and aggressive in addressing some of these extraordinary challenges. The financial system is in much better shape because of it."

The board also bid farewell to James Collins, a longtime agency veteran who is stepping down as a special adviser to the FDIC's chief financial officer.

Gruenberg praised Collins' service, as well as his support for the New York Yankees, of which Gruenberg is a well-known fan. "Jim and I share a passion bordering on the irrational for the New York Yankees," Gruenberg said. To which Dugan responded: "What's the bordering part?"

Ignoring the Heat

It may be the dog days of August in Washington, but Sen. Bernie Sanders and other liberals are unrelenting in their campaign to see Elizabeth Warren nominated to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Vermont independent insisted in a letter Friday that banks' opposition to her is a key reason to make her the choice.

"Maybe the biggest reason to support her is that the big banks are pulling out all the stops to block her nomination. They are afraid of having someone looking over their shoulder who knows the ways they rip off consumers and will make them stop it," Sanders wrote in a letter to the Obama administration.

OCC Appointees

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced two personnel changes last week.

Ted Wartell was appointed the director of community affairs policy to help shape OCC policies regarding community and economic development initiatives at national banks. Previously, Wartell was a chief of staff for community lending at Fannie Mae and held posts in the Small Business Administration and the Office of Management and Budget.

The OCC also announced that Karen Solomon will succeed Jeff Gillespie as deputy chief counsel. Solomon is to oversee the law department's legislative and regulatory activities, bank activities and structure and securities and corporate practices. She has been at the OCC for 15 year.

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