Greenspan Economic Testimony Set for Feb.

WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan is scheduled to give his semiannual report on the economy to the House Banking Committee Feb. 17 and then to the Senate Banking Committee Feb. 23.The 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins law required this Fed testimony before the two panels twice yearly. The law expired in December, but Congress extended the requirement six months in its catchall budget bill last fall.

The House also passed a bill in October offered by House Banking Chairman Jim Leach that would make permanent the Humphrey-Hawkins testimony and nearly 50 other reports on banking or housing issues, but the Senate did not act on it. Senate Banking Chairman Phil Gramm has opposed continuing the testimony and reports, but a spokeswoman said his committee would consider the House bill this year.

- Dean Anason


Hearing Slated on Melding Insurance Funds

WASHINGTON - Rep. Marge Roukema, chairwoman of the House Banking subcommittee on financial institutions, has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 16 on merging the banking and thrift deposit insurance funds.The New Jersey Republican last fall proposed merging the funds, making the Office of Thrift Supervision a division of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and rebating insurance premiums when the reserve ratio exceeds 1.5%. Rep. Roukema is expected to introduce legislation early this year to at least merge the funds.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Donna A. Tanoue, other regulators, and industry officials will be invited to testify.

- Dean Anason


Ruling Ends Dispute on $200M Thrift Levy

WASHINGTON - A three-year court battle between America's Community Bankers and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is finally over.This week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court's November 1998 decision that the FDIC does not have to refund $200 million collected from 2,000 thrifts in late 1996. The money was used to service bonds that had financed a rescue of the thrift insurance fund.

The thrift trade group sued the agency in early 1997, arguing that the FDIC's right to collect the funds had expired on Oct. 1, 1996, when the Savings Association Insurance Fund was fully capitalized. The group appealed its November 1998 loss. But in a 25-page decision, the appeals court concluded that the law was ambiguous and that it must defer to the FDIC's interpretation.

Officials of the thrift group said they do not plan to appeal to the Supreme Court.

- Barbara A. Rehm

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