Reasonable people can disagree. I’ve always firmly believed that individuals can look at the same set of facts and come to differing conclusions without necessarily holding any lingering animosity or disrespect.
So when ICBA announced its strong concerns with the nomination of Antonio Weiss for a leading role at the Treasury Department, we did so because we have legitimate concerns with his experience and because of the need for community bank representation at Treasury. This isn’t personal.
Treasury’s undersecretary for domestic finance plays a leading role in developing policies that affect financial institutions across the U.S. financial spectrum. Whereas Mr. Weiss has a relatively narrow professional background as a Wall Street executive specializing in international mergers and acquisitions, the Treasury position requires someone with a broad background in financial services, not just Wall Street.
As MIT professor Simon Johnson noted in a recent blog post, the Office of Domestic Finance oversees domestic finance, banking and other related economic matters. It also develops policies and guidance for financial institutions, financial regulation and capital markets in addition to its role in managing federal debt.
In other words, this is a position that requires an extensive understanding of our financial system and how it functions at all levels—including the local level. And it is one that is essential to reforming how the nation’s largest and riskiest financial firms are regulated to prevent another Wall Street crisis and taxpayer-funded bailout.
ICBA has long advocated the creation of an assistant secretary for community financial institutions position at Treasury to ensure Main Street’s perspective is represented at the department. Community banks need protections against excessive regulation, which poses a threat to local banking and economic growth. Our industry also opposes excessive concentration in the banking industry, which has put the financial system at greater risk.
Without such representation at Treasury, we believe the undersecretary for domestic finance should have a strong understanding of local community banking. The facts are clear—Mr. Weiss has no such qualifications. He is simply not the right person for this position. And as the representative of our nation’s community banks, ICBA cannot endorse his nomination.