WASHINGTON: FED CHAIRMAN Alan Greenspan said small-bank executives will be permitted to seek election an influential panel that advises the central bank. Page 2 REGIONAL BANKING: A NORTH CAROLINA builder had to file for bankruptcy after his thrift lender called his loans to spruce up its balance sheet for a planned merger with BB&T Financial. Then the merger was called off. Page 4 BANKERS TRUST is pumping an extra $500 million into its equity investment program as part of a drive to expand such stakes outside the United States. Page 4 CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs: HEALTH-CARE charge volume on credit cards grew about 25% in 1994, and both MasterCard and Visa are predicting continued gains this year. Page 13 COMMUNITY BANKING: A FARM EXPERT urged bankers to be more vigilant in underwriting agribusiness credits, warning that they could be hurt by falling prices for farmland. Page 6 LARGE AND SMALL bankers in Virginia and Maryland have closed ranks behind legislation to "opt in" early to the federal law allowing interstate branching. Page 7 MORTGAGES: FREDDIE MAC has finished testing its automated underwriting system and says it can now be used commercially. The nine lenders who took part in the test are still using it, and the list is expected to grow quickly. Page 8 FAT MARGINS in home equity lending have disappeared, especially on lines of credit, as lenders have multiplied in a sector that's now booming. Page 9 INVESTMENT PRODUCTS: THE COMPTROLLER's senior policy adviser criticized the proposed NASD rules on bank brokerages, apparently signaling the start of a bureaucratic turf war. Page 10 AFTER LOSING $2.4 million last year, JMC Group has scrapped its strategy of serving just a handful of banks. The investment products marketer will beat the bushes for financial institutions with as little as $200 million of assets. Page 10 TECHNOLOGY: GREAT WESTERN, the nation's second-largest thrift, has signed a $160 million outsourcing deal with a newly formed unit of AT&T. The seven-year contract calls for AT&T Solutions to manage local and wide area networks. Page 15 FINANCE: AS BOSTON BANCORP shares continue to rise on takeover rumors, some banking experts are saying the stock has become overvalued. Back page LOW STOCK PRICES for banks and thrifts have put M&A activity on the mat, by most accounts. But experts are arguing that low prices should actually spur mergers. Page 18
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