WASHINGTON -The third and final Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. roundtable discussion on deposit insurance in Kansas City ended with questions about the chances of doubling the coverage limit.
Industry officials who attended last week's forum said enthusiasm for the idea has not waned, but they acknowledged they suffered a serious blow when Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers opposed the increase in recent testimony on Capitol Hill. Their remarks echoed criticism by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm.
"People in the room recognized that Sen. Phil Gramm, Chairman Greenspan, and Secretary Summers are pretty powerful opposition," said Rob Rowe, regulatory counsel for the Independent Community Bankers of America. "They realize that we have a lot of work to do."
Bankers have raised their own questions after examining the issue in more detail over recent months, said James D. McLaughlin, director of regulatory and trust affairs for the American Bankers Association.
"At the first roundtable most bankers were in favor of doubling the limit," he said. "At the second, there was still support, but there were questions about costs, both in premiums and politically. By the third, more bankers had questions about how much deposits would really grow if coverage was raised."
The FDIC hosted the roundtables, each attended by approximately 100 bank executives, to gather input as it prepares proposals for reforming deposit insurance by the end of July.
In the wake of comments from the Fed chairman, one legislator offered an alternative solution. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., last week introduced a bill that would index the coverage limit every three years to account for inflation, starting from Jan. 1, 2000.