Business

FDIC chief calls size of deficit a ‘danger’

WASHINGTON – Excessive borrowing by the U.S. government poses a “clear danger” to the country’s long-term financial stability, the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. wrote Friday, and “urgent action” is needed to head off another financial crisis.

In an op-ed in Friday’s Washington Post, FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said a comprehensive plan is needed for budget discipline and that events in Greece and Ireland should serve as a warning about what happens when investors lose confidence in government securities.

“Even as work continues to repair our financial infrastructure and get the economy moving again, we need urgent action to forestall the next financial crisis,” Bair wrote.

“I fear that one will start in Washington,” she added, noting that total federal debt has doubled in the past seven years to almost $14 trillion.

Bair praised proposals by the co-chairmen of President Barack Obama’s deficit commission as well as recommendations by the Bipartisan Policy Center to rein in spending and put in place tax reform.

“Establishing a comprehensive plan now would demonstrate a firm commitment to the type of long-term budget discipline that will be needed to preserve our nation’s credibility in the global financial markets and a stable banking sector at home,” Bair wrote.

Bair acknowledged that spending cuts and tax increases will be unpopular and are likely to affect every interest group. And she said that changes will need to be phased in as the economy continues to recover.

Obama’s deficit commission meets next week, and its final report is due Wednesday. If 14 of the commission’s 18 members approve the final report, its recommendations would go to Congress for votes.

But getting the agreement of 14 members is expected to be difficult. Proposals from the Obama commission’s co-chairs, including raising the retirement age and curbing the growth of Medicare, were harshly criticized.



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