Sheila Bair, who led the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. at a time when nearly 400 community banks failed, believes that smaller banks are getting a raw deal these days.

Bair, now a senior policy adviser to DLA Piper, made that point clear during a Q&A session with Hovde Group on Wednesday. Bair repeatedly emphasized during a conference call that a top-down approach to regulation, which has been "disproportionately affecting" smaller banks, and low interest rates have served as a double-whammy for those institutions.

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