Updated from 10:08 a.m. EST
For a free-market enthusiast like BB&T Corp. (BBT) Chairman John Allison, these are trying times.
In a career spanning four decades, including the last 19 as CEO, Allison helped build the Winston-Salem, N.C., bank into one of the 25 largest U.S. financial institutions -- and one that has weathered the credit crisis better than most.Allison followed through with a long-planned decision to step down as CEO of BB&T at the end of last year, even amid the banking sector carnage that accelerated with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September. In an exclusive interview with TheStreet.com, Allison was critical of his fellow financial executives and the federal government as he offered his perspective of the causes of the crisis and solutions needed to restore the banking industry. "[A] lot of financial institutions did dumb stuff," says Allison. "[B]ut they did it in the context of a government system that was misleading. I mean, probably all of us were misled." "Once you had this government -- through the Federal Reserve, through the [Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.], through Freddie Mac (FRE) and Fannie Mae (FNM) -- supporting this expansion of housing, it's easy to believe that housing prices won't ever fall," he says. "That was the context in [which] very poor decisions were made."
An Admirer of Ayn RandAllison's philosophy is greatly influenced by Ayn Rand, who laid the foundation for generations of believers in free markets in her novel Atlas Shrugged. Rand was a big proponent of individualism and limited government intervention. The erudite Allison's admiration for Rand has won him both praise and criticism.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV