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The government and consumers were upset and afraid that it might happen again, so they reacted swiftly with fierce regulations, Mr. Wilfong said.

“If you create a crisis, the natural response is to overregulate,” he said.

Backed by Democratic majorities in his first two years in office, President Obama pushed through the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory measure, sought increases in the budgets of financial regulators and created a new Consumer Finance Protection Board to oversee many banking functions. Presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney has called for the repeal of Dodd-Frank, while saying there are some parts of the law he would retain.

Mr. Wilfong said the regulatory burden now faced by commercial lenders has pushed the economy past the point of consumer protection to slow growth, he said.

In fact, the regulations put in place since the recession ended have been so excessive, Mr. Wilfong said, that businesses are afraid to spend and would rather save for a rainy day.

“When you have an economy that is centered on uncertainty, then [businesses] become very conservative, they don’t invest in the future,” Mr. Wilfong said.

“They just really have gone into the trenches and they aren’t coming out,” he said. “There’s very little activity going on.”

On the flip side, consumers now have plenty of protections. Mr. Wilfong said he agreed with regulations that require banks to educate consumers about financial products before they sign up.

But he said he fears that “totally financially illiterate” consumers are protected beyond reason. Even after banks educate them, some come back later and complain that they didn’t understand what they were getting into.

“So where we’re trying to get the pendulum to swing is that there’s some obligation and some responsibility on the part of the borrower to have a role when they borrow money,” Mr. Wilfong said. “It shouldn’t be that the borrower has no role in the process, and that it’s all the bank, so that at any point in time the borrower could play a card that says, ‘I was being used.’ That’s where we warped into.”

A fine balance

Mr. Wilfong would like to find a balance where consumers are protected while the economy grows.

“Balanced regulation is a combination of being able to do business without taking advantage of consumers,” he said. “I think over time it will moderate to where there is oversight, but not to the point where you can’t deliver product to the consumer.”

For now, the banking industry is struggling to repair its reputation. Politicians are taking advantage, labeling them as “evil” and “villainizing” them for everything they have done since the financial crisis, Mr. Wilfong said.

“They got painted with this big brush of ‘evil empire,’ ” he said. “They created this industry perception that banks were all in it for themselves and really didn’t care about their clients.

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