Bloomberg News

Wells Fargo Chief Sees Uneven Recovery as Economy Expands

June 10, 2011

(Updates with comment on capital levels in the fourth paragraph.)

June 10 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. economy is growing unevenly and regulators should avoid setting new capital standards so high that they stifle lending, according to the head of Wells Fargo & Co.

“This has been a very difficult downturn,” said John G. Stumpf, chief executive officer of Wells Fargo, during a speech today in San Francisco, where the company is based. “The economy is recovering, it is true,” he said, “but growth is very uneven.”

Regulators are deciding whether to impose higher capital cushions on the biggest lenders to avert a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. Bankers including Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., have said regulators risk slowing the recovery if they rein in banks too tightly.

“There are some who would suggest more capital is better,” Stumpf said during the 25th Annual Conference of 100 Black Men of America Inc. That’s not necessarily the case, he said, urging “the right amount of capital” to allow room for lending. Wells Fargo is the biggest U.S. home lender and the fourth-largest bank by assets.

“We want to be in a position to make lots of loans, to help small businesses grow,” Stumpf said.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair defended higher capital buffers for the biggest banks yesterday and said U.S. regulators must guard against pressure to be less vigilant in overseeing the financial industry as the nation recovers from the credit crisis.

--Editors: Rick Green, William Ahearn

To contact the reporter on this story: Vivien Lou Chen in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Green at

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