Are the Largest Banks Too Complex for Their Own Good? Welcoming Remarks

September 30, 2012

Julie Stackhouse, senior vice president, Banking Supervision and Regulation, welcomes attendees and introduces guest speaker William Emmons, assistant vice president and economist, as well as guest panelists Mary Karr, senior vice president and general counsel, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Steven Manzari, senior vice president, Complex Financial Institutions, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Presentation (PDF)


Julie Stackhouse: Good evening, everyone. This is when you were supposed to say, "Good evening, Julie." Okay. Thank you. I especially like the front row. You're very, very vocal there. Thank you.

Well, I would like to welcome all of you to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, both those of you that are here in the room and those that are watching our web streaming tonight remotely. I see faces I recognize which is great. We are so happy to have you back to our session this fall.

It seems like just, what was it, four or five years ago, I remember hearing this term sub-prime mortgage. And in fact, I think that it was sort of a word of the year for one dictionary company there for a while. And no one knew what it was for a long time. And then all of a sudden we all know what it is. And now it's just sort of part of the nomenclature.

Well, this year we learned some new terms, or within the last year or so, one of those terms is robo-signing. And in case you happened to miss the definition of the term, Bill Emmons is going to cover that. In fact, I think we've got a definition maybe in the material that we have for you tonight. So that's there.

We also learned about the London Whale or who the London Whale was. And we also learned about libor rate rigging. And some of you may have not even heard the term libor until then. And you still may be scratching your head about how could something like that happen in today's sophisticated financial markets?

So we thought with all those topics on the agenda it was time to take some of the mystery out of them and bring this session to you to help explain what they are. But importantly to really try to get our arms around the key question for tonight. We have some very, very, very complex financial institutions in the United States. Not necessarily the biggest in the world. In fact, many of them are smaller than others elsewhere in the world. But they're very complex. And inevitably the question comes up, are they too complex to manage? So that's what we're going to debate.

So in just a few minutes I'm going to turn the mic over to Bill Emmons, who I think you've enjoyed, many of you enjoyed hearing in the past. Bill will talk for about an hour or so on some of these issues to bring you up to date. And then from there we'll open the floor for your questions, as we always do.

At that point Bill will be joined by Mary Karr, who's the general counsel here at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Steve Manzari, a senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This is the first time we've extended this program to an employee outside the St. Louis Fed. So, Steve, we're delighted that you could be our first non-St. Louis Fed employee here.

Steve is responsible for the large financial institutions group at the New York Fed. So he gets to work with many of these large institutions on a day in and day out basis. And in fact, as you'll see by his bio, he was actually in one, AIG, as that institution was sorted through during the months following its challenges and near collapse.

The way we'll proceed tonight, as always, is Bill will provide his comments. We will then hold, if we can, questions until the panel discussion. If you have just a question you must ask to understand what the material is, please, you know, go ahead and do that. But for the most part, we'd like to hold the questions. And then we'll turn to our panel discussion.

We will capture tonight's events, both through video and put it on our website, as well as the presentation that you're seeing tonight. So if you do want to share that with some of your friends you'll be able to do so by going to the St. Louis Fed web site after the event.

And finally, and I'll remind you about this again, you do have microphones. So when we do get to the question and answer, please be sure to turn on the microphone in front of you, and that way we can capture your question for others who might be watching through webcast or who will later watch through our video.

If you didn't see, as the last thing, there are restrooms right outside the door, so if you do need to step out we totally understand. We hope you'll come back very quickly and enjoy the rest of the program. So with that, I'd like to invite my colleague, Bill Emmons to the mic. Bill, let's hear about our large institutions: too complex to manage.

This popular lecture series addresses key issues and provides the opportunity to ask questions of Fed experts. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or Federal Reserve System.

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