The White House yesterday named Richard T. Pratt, 44, finance professor at the University of Tah graduate business school, to be chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which regulates savings and loan associations. Pratt, who has the backing of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Jake Garn (R-Utah) as well as the savings and loan industry, is likely to be confirmed without opposition.
Like nearly all the other candidates for the job, Pratt is a protege of Preston Martin, former chairman of the Bank Board and a man whose opinion was most influential in the choice for a successor to the current chairman, John Dalton. Pratt was tapped after two other finalists for the job, who were Californians with indirect ties to President Reagan, both withdrew. In addition to serving as a consultant to Martin, Pratt has been a mortgage finance adviser to foreign countries. He has a consulting firm in Salt Lake City that specializes in mortgage lending and utilities.
Rollin D. Barnard, president of the U.S. League of Savings Associations, hailed the choice as outstanding. Pratt served as chief economist of the league 12 years ago. The National Savings and Loan League, which represents the large thrifts, expressed "great confidence" in Pratt. President Richard S. Lawton said, "[he] is extremely knowledgeable about the industry,. and we expect him to be a vigorous and forceful advocate of home finance in the Reagan administration."
Pratt is considerd a conservative, his philosophy similar to that of Sen. Garn. In an interview several weeks ago, Pratt said his primary approach to the job would be to buy time for the savings and loan industry. He spoke of a period of protection for thrifts while they mold their new powers into an efficient system. While determined to preserve the industry, he is philosophically opposed to subsidies for S&LS, although he conceded it might be necessary to inject some government funds as a last resort. (Such a plan recently has been proposed by the league.)
"Deregulation is excellent," said Pratt, "but it leaves S&LS worse off than they were before."
Pratt upheld the special nature of S&LS, saying it would be a mistake to turn them into banks.