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Public Papers - 1991

Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for William Taylor as Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

1991-10-31

The President. Thank you, Father White, for that prayer.

It's a pleasure to welcome William Taylor aboard as he takes on one of America's toughest jobs, Chairman of the FDIC.

I'm delighted that Bill's family could be with us here. I don't know if they've been introduced, but Sharon, his wife, and then Claire, William, and Emily, and his sister, Ruth. We're especially pleased you all are here, and you've got good seats for the occasion, I noticed. [Laughter] That's the way it ought to be.

I'm also pleased to salute our Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Housing Jack Kemp; Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Fed; and Richard Breeden of the SEC. I don't see Bob Clarke. Oh, here he is, sitting right here. Bob Clarke and also Tim Ryan with us from OTS. And missing in action are two members of Congress who were supposed to be here, but let's hope they're not doing things bad up there on the Hill. [Laughter]

Bill Taylor is a thorough professional who really does exemplify the highest ideals of selfless public service. With more than 20 years service as a bank regulator, he has earned a sterling reputation for fairness and also strength of leadership. He also brings to his new position valuable private sector experience in the banking and real estate finance industries.

My top priority must be for this country's economic growth, sustaining and accelerating that which has been proclaimed by economists as an emerging recovery. And in this, I already have benefited from Bill Taylor's advice. His ideas have helped shape our intensive efforts to ease this credit crunch, the credit shortage. And I know from working directly with Bill that he has a creative and independent mind. He calls them as he sees them, a deep understanding of banking, and above all, a firm sense of responsibility and duty.

We will not enjoy a full recovery until we get our banking system in order. The FDIC belongs to a larger, more complex financial system that needs comprehensive renewal and reform. For all his talent and integrity, Bill Taylor won't be able to do his work to the fullest if we fail to give him the teammates and the tools that he needs.

Vital members of the bank regulation team have been held up by the Senate's confirmation process. The Nation has been waiting more than 9 months for the Senate to act upon my nomination for Comptroller of the Currency. Two nominees to fill vacancies on the Federal Reserve Board await Senate votes. One of these has been delayed more than 8 months.

And in my speech to the public administrators last week, I had a lot to say about reforming the confirmation process, including the archaic practice of placing ``holds'' on nominees. At this moment of such pressing need for action and leadership, the Senate must act now to go get our top-level bank regulation team in place. We have good people. And they ought to be put in there, and let them do the job.

Let me say today, I will repeat this message over and over and over: The Congress needs to act on a comprehensive growth package, and the Senate on each one of these vital nominations.

Our regulatory team also needs modern tools to keep America's banks strong in competitive global markets. While the rest of the world forges ahead, our banks and businesses bear the dead weight of banking regulations enacted more than half a century ago. And I have asked Congress to enact comprehensive reforms of our banking laws to bring them up to date.

My bank reform package will knock down restraints that keep us from competing on an even basis with the banks of others: European banks, Japanese banks. Odd as it may seem, we permit a bank in Birmingham, England, to open branches in California, but we forbid a bank in Birmingham, Alabama, from doing the same thing. We can't compete if we place our own banking industry in shackles.

Our plan for deposit insurance reform would safeguard depositors' hard-earned money and protect the taxpayers' pocketbooks as well.

Our legislation would set standards for prompt action by bank regulators. This can help us preserve sound banks and ensure sound loans.

Most important, our reforms would allow banks to offer new products and services and to tap new sources of investment. Diversification of risks and assets would put our banks in a stronger position to simply make good loans. This would give America's small and medium-sized businesses, which depend on banks for their capital, the wherewithal to grow. This would let us move forward the way we always have, by extending credit for the pursuit of prudent risks and by supplying capital to create new jobs and open up new opportunities.

Our battle for banking reform faces opposition not just from protectors of the status quo. Incredible as it may seem, some in Congress actually want to move banking laws backward to make our banks even less competitive in the global marketplace. Congress must not give in to the interest groups that seek to hold back progress. The stakes are too high, and we cannot afford to wait any longer. Nothing will stop me from fighting on principle for real bank reform that gets our economy moving toward the future.

Bill, I know that you will be proud to lead what I am told is a bunch, a group of really dedicated professionals over there at FDIC. And all of you enjoy my fullest support in the tough job that you there at that agency face. And be assured, I will continue to make every effort to strengthen America's banking system so that it can support a strong and competitive economy now and in the 21st century.

Thank you very much. And now let us all witness the swearing-in of this good man to go over to FDIC.

[At this point William Taylor was sworn in as Chairman of the FDIC.]

Note: The President spoke at 1:03 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, the President referred to Father Constantine White of the Russian Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas of the Orthodox Church in America and Richard C. Breeden, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. OTS is the Office of Thrift Supervision. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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