WASHINGTON — President Bush has decided to name William Taylor, the top banking regulator at the Federal Reserve Board, to replace retiring L. William Seidman as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., an Administration official said Monday.
Bush's choice of Taylor to supervise the nation's banks and the deposit insurance fund that backs them will be announced soon by the White House, possibly as early as today, said the Administration official, who requested anonymity.
The President is expected to choose another person to replace Seidman as head of the Resolution Trust Corp., the federal agency created to oversee the government's massive bailout of the savings and loan industry. Seidman has held both jobs simultaneously.
The Administration already has a nationwide job search in progress to find a chief executive for the RTC, which is expected to be restructured in coming months in an effort to address criticism of its handling of the S&L cleanup.
Seidman, a tough, outspoken regulator who has clashed occasionally with top Administration officials, notified the President last week of his plans to step down when his current term at the FDIC ends on Oct. 16. He has run the FDIC since 1985.
Although Bush had proposed Taylor to head the agency last May, when it first appeared that Seidman might be leaving the post, the President said last week that he intended to look at several potential successors before making a final decision.
"We'll start over and take a hard look," Bush said. "There'll be some names coming my way."
There was speculation that the White House delayed Taylor's nomination because the Fed is under fire for failing to prevent the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit & Commerce International from obtaining illicit control of First American Bank in Washington.
It has not been disclosed whether Taylor, 52, had a direct role in the matter.
Taylor, who was described as "an inside man" by one industry lobbyist, is considered less likely than Seidman to disagree with the Administration over regulation of the nation's banking system, which is reeling from the collapse of the real estate market.
Taylor has also made it clear that he dislikes publicity and controversy and will probably try to keep a low profile, friends and colleagues have said. But shying away from the public spotlight may not be easy given the extensive media coverage focused on the Gargantuan thrift bailout.
His arrival for a five-year term at the FDIC would coincide with a rancorous debate on Capitol Hill over the merits of an Administration proposal to reform the nation's Depression-era banking laws and decide on the best way to shore up the bank deposit insurance fund.
The FDIC is trying to cope with the biggest wave of bank failures since the Great Depression. Seidman has warned that the deposit insurance fund will become insolvent by year's end and has urged Congress to pass legislation to replenish it.
The House and Senate banking committees have passed separate bills that would provide $70 billion in temporary borrowing authority for the fund, which insures deposits up to $100,000 each. Under both measures, the borrowed money would be repaid by premiums from the banking industry.