Traditionally, banks and insurance companies have been a mainstay of local economies -- not just for the jobs and revenue they produce, but also for the cadre of civic leaders who bubble up from their ranks. These are men and women who are active in the community, who give time, money and talent. They are a reservoir of strength in any city, and an integral part of its character. Jack Moseley, chairman of USF&G, has been one of them -- a driving force behind efforts to promote the Baltimore region as well as generous corporate giving to the city's charitable and cultural institutions.
But the economic downturn has forced the beleaguered USF&G to hunker down and work to persuade Wall Street that it is serious about changing direction. That means the company will be forced to cut its dividend and lay off employees at every level. And the 59-year-old Moseley, who had presided over dividend increases since he became chairman in 1981, will step down. This course most likely will put USF&G in a strong enough position to survive the current downturn and benefit from the next economic upturn. Baltimore, however, is another matter.
USF&G employs some 2,500 people in this area. So the pending layoffs are sure to further exacerbate local economic problems. More that that, the region is losing a powerful benefactor. USF&G will not reveal the name of Moseley's successor, except to note that the person is someone of "national stature" who, we presume, probably will not be as closely tied to Baltimore as Moseley is. The announcement of his resignation, coming only six weeks after that of MNC chairman Alan Hoblitzell, another of the city's white-collar leaders, represents a loss not only to the business community, but to the old economic and civic order as well.