Politics & Government

Obama picks community banker for Fed

The Federal Reserve (J.M. Eddins, Jr./MCT)
The Federal Reserve (J.M. Eddins, Jr./MCT) MCT

President Barack Obama opted for continuity Tuesday, nominating former community banker Allan R. Landon to fill a seat on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors.

Landon was CEO of Bank of Hawaii from 2004 to 2010, and after leaving that post worked as a law lecturer at the University of Hawaii.

“Allan Landon has the proven experience, judgment and deep knowledge of the financial system to serve at the Federal Reserve during this important time for our economy,” Obama said in a statement announcing the nomination. “He brings decades of leadership and expertise from various roles, particularly as a community banker.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Landon would fill a void by the 2013 retirement of Elizabeth Duke, a former banking executive and the last on the seven-member board with such experience.

Landon, 65, would bring a background in banking to a board whose responsibilities include setting the Fed’s benchmark interest rate, which influences the cost of borrowing across the economy.

The nomination was almost instantly applauded by the trade group Independent Community Bankers of America, citing his experience as the CEO of a community bank. The group has long complained that Wall Street banks get greater attention from the Fed than smaller ones of regional importance.

“More specifically, community banks have critical banking and economic interests that come before the board,” Camden R. Fine, president of the ICBA, said in a statement. “Having someone with community bank experience, such as Landon, on the board will ensure that community bank interests are more fully understood as the board considers the impact of its policies on smaller banks and the communities and rural areas they serve.

Some lawmakers in both major parties have called on the White House to nominate a community banker. While Bank of Hawaii is actually larger than many community banks, the White House touted Landon’s community focus. It cited his approach with small businesses and non-profit organizations, and his bank’s outreach in support of community groups.