President Bush has announced his intention to nominate former Treasury Department official Sheila Bair to be the new chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.Ms. Bair served as Treasury assistant secretary for financial institutions during the first two years of the Bush administration. She resigned in 2002 to become a professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. If confirmed by the Senate, Ms. Bair would become the head of an agency that is considering a controversial application by Wal-Mart to offer limited banking services. The FDIC and the other banking regulators are also considering joint guidance that would force banks and thrifts to tighten their underwriting standards on interest-only and payment-option mortgages and pull back on commercial real estate lending. The American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America welcomed the president's announcement. "Sheila Bair is an outstanding choice to head the FDIC," ABA president Edward Yingling said. Martin Gruenberg has been serving as acting FDIC chairman since former chairman Donald Powell resigned in November to become the president's coordinator of Gulf Coast rebuilding.

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