YEAR-2000 FAILURES: The Exam Council on May 6 issued supplementary guidelines on year-2000 contingency planning. Written in question-and- answer format, the guidelines clarify what steps banks are required to take to prepare for the aftermath of a year-2000 failure.

DIGITAL SIGNATURE: The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on May 6 published guidelines for national banks that plan to act as a certification authority for electronic signatures. Banks involved in this business must have adequate systems in place to ensure consumers are correctly identified and must maintain an accurate data base of electronic signatures.

PRIVACY: President Clinton on May 4 unveiled a consumer financial privacy initiative. The program included a variety of regulatory and legislative proposals aimed at protecting consumers from fraud and privacy invasion and giving consumers the tools they need to make smart credit choices.

CRA CREDIT: The Exam Council issued guidelines in question-and-answer format clarifying the steps banks must take to get Community Reinvestment Act credit for community development and other types of lending. Published and effective May 4.

PRIVACY: The OCC on May 4 issued guidelines for national banks that operate Web sites. Banks should post their privacy policy clearly on their Web page and make sure their staff adheres to that policy.

LEVERAGED LENDING: The OCC on May 3 told banks to keep an eye on leveraged lending. The advisory letter outlined collateral and repayment problems that examiners will look for in leveraged loans and said that some loans may have to be downgraded.

YEAR-2000 CHECKLIST: The Exam Council in early May gave financial institutions a one-page checklist to distribute to their customers. It details steps consumers may take to prepare for 2000, such as keeping copies of their bank statements.

ACCOUNTING: The Financial Accounting Standards Board on April 21 announced that it would eliminate the "pooling of interests" method of accounting for mergers and acquisitions. Instead, the FASB will require merging parties to use the "purchase" method. Mandate effective Jan. 1, 2001.

DEPOSIT INSURANCE: At an April 20 board meeting, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. left deposit insurance rates unchanged for the second half of 1999. Banks and thrifts will pay premiums of up to 27 basis points on their deposits, depending on their capitalization and Camels rating.

RISK-BASED CAPITAL: The four bank and thrift regulators amended the risk-based capital standards for market risk. Under the rule, institutions with a qualified internal risk-measuring model no longer also have to use the standardized model. Published April 19. Effective July 1.

CONSUMER LEASING: The Federal Reserve Board revised its Regulation M staff commentary to clarify how banks should disclose lease negotiations, fees, and taxes. Published April 6. Effective March 31, but compliance is optional for one year.

TRUTH-IN-LENDING: A Fed staff commentary clarified that banks may not mail unsolicited credit cards to consumers, even if the product also serves as a stored value card. Published April 6. Effective March 31, but compliance is optional for one year.

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