In the growing fight of community bankers versus large institutions, the Independent Community Bankers of America began pushing a bill last week that would create a Treasury post devoted to the welfare of small banks.The trade group praised a bill from Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., that would create a Treasury assistant secretary for community financial institutions. The Treasury Department, of course, already has an assistant secretary for financial institutions, a post held by Michael Barr, but the ICBA argued that having its own dedicated official makes more sense.
It "would ensure that community banks are given appropriate and balanced consideration in the Treasury policymaking process — something that is absolutely vital to the continued health and strength of our nation's community banks and the communities they serve," Camden Fine, the ICBA's president, said in a press release.
But just who would be right for the job?
Maybe its the perfect Nixon-to-China moment for some former financial services executives who could cast aside their past as defenders of large institutions and embrace their smaller brethren.
For example, Chuck Prince, the former chief executive of Citigroup Inc., or Henry Paulson, the former Treasury secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs. Prince, of course, is blamed for leading Citi to financial ruin, and Paulson was the architect of a massive bailout for the country's largest banks.
But perhaps the best candidate is none other than Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve Board chairman once called "The Maestro" and now criticized as ineffective in heading off the financial crisis. Greenspan, after years of denying that a "too big to fail" policy stance existed, did an about-face last week and declared it an unsolvable problem. He could be challenged to come up with a way to level the playing field for small banks.
It might be his just deserts.
Citigroup Inc. has lost its most senior Democratic lobbyist, Jimmy Ryan, for a job at Elmendorf Strategies, a boutique lobbying shop headed by Steve Elmendorf, a former senior adviser to Dick Gephardt.Ryan's departure comes at a pivotal time for the industry and for Citi in particular as Congress and the Obama administration wrestle with regulatory restructuring issues that could have a significant impact on the future of large banking companies like Citi, which have been deemed too big to fail.
Ryan spent six years lobbying for Citi and was promoted in October to senior vice president of federal government affairs to help develop the company's lobbying strategy on issues like regulatory modernization. His departure leaves Citi without its highest profile Democrat.
Ryan reported directly to Republican Nicholas Calio, Citi's executive vice president of global government affairs, who formerly was President George W. Bush's top legislative affairs assistant.
At Elmendorf, Ryan is to continue to lobby on financial services issues among a range of topics and to build up the firm's client base with a focus on relationships with Democrats.
New Job for Leach
Two and a half years after losing his congressional seat, Jim Leach continues to prove that life after politics is not so bad.The White House announced last week that it would nominate the former Iowa congressman and chairman of the House Banking and Financial Services Committee to be the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The former congressman, who served for 30 years and helped write the landmark 1999 banking legislation dubbed Gramm-Leach-Bliley, has held varied jobs since losing his reelection bid in 2006. He was a visiting professor at Princeton University and, until August 2008, the interim director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Banking Law Chief
Richard Whiting, the Financial Services Roundtable's executive director and general counsel, has been elected chairman of the board of advisers at the Morin Center for Banking and Financial Law of Boston University's School of Law.Whiting succeeds John D. Hawke Jr., the former comptroller of the currency and Treasury under secretary for domestic finance, who had led the Morin board since 1993.