MONTEREY, Calif. - In California, regulators don't come from hell, as some bankers frequently claim. They come from the Midwest.

George Masa, an Illinois native with a thick Chicago accent seemingly at odds with his West Coast surroundings, has been director of the Western Region of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. since 1991. He has spent 23 years at the FDIC in relative obscurity, both as a regional director in Chicago and as a well-liked administrator at the Washington headquarters.

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