Ex-ABA President to Work for Senate Panel

WASHINGTON - Sen. Rod Grams, R-Minn., has hired former American Bankers Association president Mark W. Olson as his chief banking aide.Mr. Olson will be staff director of the securities subcommittee, of which Sen. Grams is chairman. Mr. Olson succeeds Alan L. Brubaker, who recently became associate director for external relations of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.

Mr. Olson, 56, retired in September as director of Ernst & Young's financial services regulatory practice and previously was president of Security State Bank in Fergus Falls, Minn. In 1986 he became the youngest banker ever elected ABA president.

Mr. Olson said he took the Senate job because it will keep him "plugged in" to the fast-changing industry while still allowing him the personal time he sought by retiring.

Bipartisan Group to Push for Consumer Privacy

WASHINGTON - Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., and Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., inaugurated a bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus on Thursday to fight for tougher confidentiality laws on consumer financial records.Sen. Shelby, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, called the privacy protections in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 "a sham" and vowed with Rep. Markey to press for stricter laws this year. But the two acknowledged they face an uphill battle in 2000 because of election-year politics and calls by Senate Banking Chairman Phil Gramm and others to wait until the law's privacy requirements have taken effect.

"I believe we will ultimately prevail," Sen. Shelby said at a news conference. "Whether it is now or later, we are not sure, but there is momentum building. People are nervous about this issue."

The caucus will follow four basic principles: the need to notify consumers when their personal information is disclosed, the consumer's right to review and correct personal information, the need for affirmative consumer consent before disclosure, and protection of state laws from federal preemption. The other founders of the Congressional Privacy Caucus are Sen. Richard H. Bryan, D-Nev., and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Tex.

Lugar Champions Ban on Swaps Rules

WASHINGTON - Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar on Thursday urged fellow lawmakers to swiftly pass legislation that would bar federal regulation of equity swaps agreements and other over-the-counter derivatives."This committee is faced with the daunting task of drafting this complicated legislation in a year drastically shortened by a full congressional calendar and a presidential election," the Indiana Republican said. "In my view, Congress has a three-month period … to pass this bill or resign itself to the fact that it will not get done until next year."

Regulators and Clinton administration officials agreed. "I see a real risk that if we fail to rationalize our regulation … these markets and the related profits and employment opportunities will be lost to foreign jurisdictions," Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan testified.

- Dean Anason

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