Sheila Bair Steps Down as Head of FDIC

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Sheila Bair
With her term expiring this summer, Sheila Bair has decided five years is enough as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Her departure will cost the Obama administration a progressive voice on banking and Wall Street regulation matters, having been a proponent of tougher rules for large banks following the 2008 financial crisis. Created in 1933, the FDIC is responsible for insuring deposits made by individuals and companies in banks and other thrift institutions.
A Republican who was appointed to the FDIC by President George W. Bush in 2006, Bair was one of first people in Washington to raise concerns about the housing crisis. She later helped orchestrate deals for hundreds of struggling banks when the financial markets collapsed, was a staunch advocate of a controversial federal loan modification program, and called for limiting the power of banks deemed “too big to fail.” Bair has been an advocate of smaller banks, but has been seen as an adversary by the executives of big financial institutions. She was even booed at a meeting of the American Bankers Association in March.
In 2008, Forbes ranked Bair the second most powerful woman in the world behind German chancellor Angela Merkel. By 2010, Forbes had dropped her down to fifteenth place, just ahead of Sarah Palin.
Born April 3, 1954, Bair received a BA from Kansas University in 1975 and a JD from Kansas University School of Law in 1978.
She worked as research director, deputy counsel and counsel to Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole from 1981 to 1988 and commissioner and acting chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1991 to 1995.
Bair was Senior Vice President for Government Relations of the New York Stock Exchange from 1995 to 2000 and then served as Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the US Department of the Treasury from 2001 to 2002.
In 2002, Bair was the Dean’s Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. During this time, Bair also served on the FDIC’s Advisory Committee on Banking Policy.
She and her husband, Scott Cooper, have a son and a daughter. Bair is the author of two children’s books, Rock, Brock, And the Savings Shock (2006), which promotes saving over spending; and Isabel’s Car Wash (2008) about a little girl who borrows money from friends to start a car wash so that she can buy a doll. She earns enough to pay back a profit to her investors and everyone lives happily ever after.
Bair said she would like to take a break from the financial industry and perhaps serve on corporate boards in other sectors. She also may write a book on the lessons she learned during the crisis.
Martin Gruenberg, the FDIC’s vice chairman, is expected to take over for Bair, assuming the Senate confirms his appointment.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
F.D.I.C. Chairwoman to Leave in July (by Eric Dash, New York Times)
FDIC Chairman Bair to Step Down (by Alan Zibel, Wall Street Journal)
Bair Steps Down At a Crucial Time For FDIC (by Halah Touryalai, Forbes)
Sheila Blair (AllGov)
Sheila Bair (Forbes)


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