As for the oversight mistakes that he and his regulatory colleagues made, Mr. Geithner essentially says "We were human." But this fails to address head-on the possibility that he was a captured regulator, a man locked into the mind-set of the very bankers he was supposed to oversee.


Last week, I asked Sheila C. Bair, the former chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, for her recollection of these events. She replied with an email recalling that in 2006, she attended her first Basel Committee meeting, the international negotiations that Mr. Geithner was referring to. While there, she pushed unsuccessfully to raise bank capital levels.

Why was she unsuccessful? "I was actively undermined by the Fed, the New York Fed and the comptroller of the currency," she said. "I later complained to Tim about the way his representative on the Basel Committee had undermined me. He was unapologetic.''

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