Countrywide Credit's Earnings Dip

CALABASAS, Calif. - Countrywide Credit Industries earned $99.8 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 29, off 2% from a year earlier.Earnings per share were 87 cents, up 1.16%. However, a corporate reorganization resulted in a $25 million nonrecurring gain that accounted for 22 cents per share of those earnings.

Without that one-time gain, operating earnings were 65 cents per share. That was one cent higher than the average of estimates from analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial - but off 24% from a year earlier.

Former Chase Chairman Got $10M Bonus

NEW YORK - Walter V. Shipley, former chairman of Chase Manhattan Corp., received a $10 million bonus in 1999, up 92% from 1998, and a $1.1 million annual salary, according to the company's proxy which was released Friday afternoon.William B. Harrison Jr., chairman, president, and chief executive officer of $406 billion-asset Chase, received $930,769 in salary and a $5.3 million bonus, according the filing. Mr. Harrison was president and CEO from June to December 1999.

--Dominick Fontana

$100M a Month of Inflation-Indexed Bonds

WASHINGTON - Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said Friday that sales of inflation-indexed savings bonds introduced 18 months ago have skyrocketed.At a luncheon meeting of the Greater New York Savings Bond Campaign, Mr. Summers said about $100 million of the so-called I bonds were sold in each of the last three months, roughly triple the average of the preceding 12 months.

Mr. Summers said Americans like I bonds because they prevent inflation from eroding savings and offer a strong rate of return, he said. "This is a clear example of how the combination of clear education and the cooperation of employers … can spread the culture of savings among employees," he said.

Also, the Treasury has been selling an average of $1 million of bonds each week through Savings Bond Connection, a Web site it started in November.

Despite the hoopla, Mr. Summers reiterated that personal savings rates have been declining in recent years, averaging only 2.3% of after-tax income in 1999.

- Dean Anason

Fed Adds Payday Loans to Disclosure Rule

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve Board on Friday amended Regulation Z, which implements the Truth-in-Lending Act, to include so-called payday loans.The Fed found that for purposes of Truth-in-Lending, payday loans count as "credit" and are therefore subject to the same disclosure requirements as loans.

Payday loans typically involve borrowers receiving cash in exchange for a pre-dated check made out for the amount of the loan plus a fee. The Fed ruling will require payday lenders to disclose not only the amount of the fee that they charge, but to indicate the interest rate being charged in terms of an annual percentage.

Payday lenders have objected to including their products under the Truth-in-Lending Act, claiming that they do not constitute an extension of credit and fall under state, not federal, regulation. The amendment took effect on Friday, but compliance is optional until Oct. 1.

- Rob Garver

Salomon Smith Barney Hires Merrill Exec

LONDON - Salomon Smith Barney said Friday that Rafaelle Mincione is joining the firm to head a new bank derivatives unit.Mr. Mincione will oversee the coverage of banks across Europe on a wide range of derivative products.

He was a managing director for Latin American derivative sales in New York at Merrill Lynch and had headed its European investor marketing business and its credit derivative marketing business in Europe.

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