Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Can a U.S. regulator simply talk banks into lending? FDIC’s Bair is trying


When a regulator talks, do banks listen?

FINANCE-SUMMIT/BAIRBanks are returning to profitability after the financial crisis and the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp is trying to nudge them into lending again.

“You can’t force them to lend,” FDIC chairman Sheila Bair says. “But I think jawboning helps.”

The U.S. banking industry reaped big profits in 2010 as the financial crisis faded further into the distance.

If all the regulator can do is try to talk them into increasing lending, why should banks listen?