Banking trade groups have once again stepped into a political trap set by Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato over automated teller machine fees.
Backed by retailers and other business interests, the American Bankers Association and sister banking groups are placing advertisements in Washington newspapers and political publications this week urging Congress not to ban ATM surcharges.
Although the ads do not name the Senate Banking Committee chairman, they are clearly aimed at Sen. D'Amato's plan to attach his surcharge ban to must-pass legislation in September. His effort is widely expected to fail, but the ads succeed in painting him as a populist in an election year.
"Sometimes when you are fighting for the consumer, the big special interest groups don't like it," Sen. D'Amato said in a statement. "If they think they can intimidate me, they are wrong."
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan headlined the annual Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's economic conference Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Speaking on income inequality-the theme of this year's confab-Mr. Greenspan said economic growth was the key to reducing the divide between rich and poor. "Sustaining a healthy economy and a stable financial system naturally permits us to take the time to focus efforts on addressing the distributional issues facing our society," he said.
Other speakers at the conference included: Joseph Stiglitz, senior vice president of the World Bank; Assar Lindbeck, professor at Stockholm University; and Dennis Snower, professor at Birkbeck College at the University of London.
Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey says he wants banks to do a better job of guarding their customers' privacy.
During an Aug. 5 vote on a bill cracking down on fraudulent "information brokers," the New York Democrat offered an amendment that would have required financial institutions to get written consent before disclosing sensitive customer data. The House Banking Committee handily defeated it.
Rep. Hinchey complained a week later in a statement attached to the committee's official report on the legislation that the measure barely scratches the surface of what's needed.
"The bill does not address the apparent lack of internal controls that makes it so easy for information brokers to obtain confidential data from financial institutions in the first place," he said. "At the very least, the Banking Committee should have insisted that banks establish written policies and procedures that set out very clearly their obligations to safeguard customers' information."
Rep. Hinchey pledged to fight on. "It is just the beginning of a broad review of financial privacy issues."
Clifford A. Wilke has been named director of technology at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
In the newly created post, Mr. Wilke will be in charge of developing examination procedures and industry guidance for managing bank technology.
Previously, Mr. Wilke was vice president of business development at Mobil Oil Credit Corp. At Mobil he led development of a pre-paid gasoline/phone card.
He is to start Sept. 21 and report to Ralph E. Sharpe, senior policy adviser for bank supervision policy.
Gary W. Schur will lead the Texas Bankers Association until it hires someone to succeed Robert E. Harris, who died of a heart attack Aug. 21.
Mr. Schur ran First National Bank in Munday for 19 years, retiring in January 1997 when it was sold. He was the 1995-96 chairman of the Texas group.
Mr. Schur was one of three eulogists at Mr. Harris' funeral, attended by about 600 friends last week. Roger Beverage, president and chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Bankers Association, and Fredrick M. Smith, president and CEO of Community Bank and Trust, Waco, also spoke.
Mr. Harris, 54, was a fixture in state trade groups the last 23 years; he took the Texas bankers' top job in February 1988.