FDIC Settlements Unannounced: Moral Hazard?

Do you think FDIC deals not to publicize weak settlements represents moral hazard and are not good for the American economy?

Since 2007, 471 U.S. banks have failed, nearly depleting the FDIC deposit-insurance fund with $92.5 billion in losses. Rather than sue, the agency has typically preferred to settle for a fraction of the losses while helping the banks avoid bad press.

"In the old days, the regulators made it a point to embarrass everyone, to call attention to their role in bank failures," said former bank examiner Richard Newsom, who specialized in insider-abuse cases for the FDIC in the aftermath of the S&L debacle. The goal was simple: "to make other bankers scared."

Newsom said he couldn't understand the shift, unless the agency doesn't "want people to know how little they are settling for."

The FDIC should disclose as much as it can, said Lauren Saunders, managing attorney at the National Consumer Law Center in Washington. "Transparency is always better, and serves as a deterrent to future misconduct."

The ban on secret settlements was a provision in one of the laws passed after the S&L crisis. Although the measure doesn't require the FDIC to call attention to settlements, nondisclosure agreements like that with Deutsche Bank violate "the spirit of the law," said Sausalito, Calif., attorney Bart Dzivi, a former Senate Banking Committee aide who drafted the provision.

In major policy shift, scores of FDIC settlements go unannounced – latimes.com.


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