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Bair knew banking when

In a New Yorker profile titled "The Contrarian," Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairwoman Sheila Bair is variously referred to as a "Republican regulator liberals love" and "the skunk at the picnic." A Bush appointee, Bair was among the few voices warning about the economic threat posed by subprime mortgages. The University of Kansas graduate, former aide to Bob Dole and onetime Kansas congressional candidate discusses her roots in Independence ("It's an area where people make it, but you've got to work at it," she said) and recalls working as a teller in a small-town bank in the simpler '70s. "Everybody had a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage back then," she said. "It was a ritual to come in and make your mortgage payment personally. There was a kind of pride in living up to your obligations, and, on the lender side, in making loans that people could understand and afford."

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