Magazine article American Banker

Washington Lambasted by Industry Execs

Magazine article American Banker

Washington Lambasted by Industry Execs

Article excerpt

Washington Lambasted by Industry Execs

WASHINGTON - Several top banking and financial company executives blamed the Bush administration and Congress Wednesday for doing more to fuel their industry's crisis of confidence than to cure it.

The openly frustrated officials, members of an advisory group formed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, included John G. Medlin Jr., chairman and chief executive of Wachovia Corp., and Frank G. Zarb, a member of the Ford administration cabinet who is now chairman and chief executive officer of Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.

Mr. Medlin, whose North Carolina-based banking company is one of the industry's most profitable, said customers "aren't nearly as concerned about the confidence of banks and thrifts as they are with government."

He complained of "a public policy failure" by the executive and legislative branches of government.

"We don't have any positive leadership in Washington that says we have a good, positive financial industry," said Charles B. Stuzin, chairman and president of CSF Holdings Inc., a Miami-based thrift holding company.

"As hard as it is, this administration [must] pull itself together," added Mr. Zarb of Smith Barney, which is the brokerage unit of Primerica Corp. "We run the risk of some uncontrolled overreaction" by Congress, he added. "Overreaction tends to drive this place," he said of the capital, "and it is always negative."

The speakers are on the Market Oversight and Financial Sector Advisory Committee appointed in July by SEC Chairman Richard Breeden. At its first meeting, Mr. Breeden listened intently, deflected some criticism of the SEC, sparred with a panel member on whether the financial system has adequate liquidity, and challenged other members with questions.

The meeting, which lasted about three hours, remained cordial.

Mr. …

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