FULL FAITH AND CREDIT by L. William Seidman


The Great S&L Debacle and Other Washington Sagas
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 A jauntily opinionated memoir of government service from the resilient septuagenarian who was chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Resolution Trust Corp. at the height of the crises that convulsed the domestic banking industry during the 1980's. An accountant by trade, Seidman first went to Washington toward the end of the Nixon Administration, staying on when Gerald Ford assumed the presidency. He returned as head of the FDIC near the start of Ronald Reagan's second term. Casino capitalism had gathered a full head of steam by then, and Seidman's hitherto sleepy fiefdom was soon in the eye of many fiscal storms. Commercial banks were among the first casualties of laissez-faire's excesses and, here, Seidman offers behind-the-scenes accounts of how the FDIC helped deal with major failures in New England as well as in the Southwest. Also covered are the varied battles that appointed agency chiefs must wage with bureaucrats, lawmakers, politicos, and the press if they are to maintain their clout. The author goes on to provide a savvy, often witty, rundown on the roots of the S&L disaster, which burst into full bloom on his watch, albeit only after George Bush had secured a four-year lease on the White House. Among other matters, Seidman evaluates the RTC's role in the $200-billion bailout, as well as its record in running history's largest fire sale (i.e., its liquidation of the assets of seized institutions) and in seeking to make recoveries from the white-collar crooks who ran hundreds of thrifts deep into the red. Notwithstanding a less-than-graceful departure at the end of his term, the author took fond memories with him when, late in 1991, he departed Washington, convinced that the system works in the public interest. An informative briefing on the big-money games played on the banks of the Potomac.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8129-2134-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1993