WASHINGTON: THE HIRING of Kenneth F. Ryder Jr. is viewed as a coup for the Office of Thrift Supervision. He surpasses other regulators in his understanding of how the budget law's "pay as you go" requirement affects capitalization of the Savings Association Insurance Fund. Page 3 THE JUSTICE Department has dropped its antitrust investigation into efforts by the American Council of Life Insurance to block the so-called retirement CD. Page 2 REGIONAL BANKING: MORE THAN A DOZEN community organizations throughout the Northeast have banded together to demand that the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston hold public hearings on the merger pending between Fleet Financial Group and Shawmut National. Page 5 INVESTMENT PRODUCTS: JOHN NUVEEN & Co. is trying to rebound from a miserable 1994 with a tax- free, fixed-income investment that offers more predictable returns than the typical bond fund. Jerome Contro, Nuveen's vice president and national bank division manager, said his sales team is encouraging bank brokers to offer bond funds as part of a diversified portfolio. Page 14 COMMUNITY BANKING: AMID CLIMBING interest rates and narrowing profit margins last year, the best large community banks churned out a whopping 2.58% return on average assets, more than double the industry's 1.15% return, according to an American Banker survey. Page 6 KENTUCKY FARMERS Bank fell from grace last year as rising interest rates reduced the value of its derivatives holdings, producing a $16.9 million loss. Page 6 MORTGAGES: DESPITE A SLOWING economy, mortgage delinquencies fell to a 22-year low of 3.91% of all loans in the first quarter. But economists said they expected delinquencies to rise for the rest of the year. Page 13 A MANAGEMENT shake-up has followed the sudden resignation last week of the president of GMAC Mortgage Co. Since then, a top executive has been dismissed, and a new president has been named. Page 13 TECHNOLOGY: NETCHEX, a start-up company, has developed a system to allow for secure check writing over the Internet and is now seeking a bank partner to help get it off the ground. Page 16 TO IMPROVE the speed of service at teller windows and automated teller machines, Summit Bank has enlisted Bell Atlantic to install high-capacity data networks at the bank's branches using frame relay technology. Page 16 CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs: VISA INTERNATIONAL, with the help of about two dozen systems vendors, staged an unusually comprehensive demonstration in Milan last week of what it called the "digital revolution" - everything from a "virtual branch" on a computer screen to wireless shopping and banking via hand-held devices. Page 19 FINANCE: A DONALDSON, Lufkin & Jenrette analyst cut his investment rating on J.P. Morgan & Co., warning that the current bond rally, unlike its 1993 predecessor, would not boost the money-center's return on equity. He reduced its rating to "market performance" from "outperform." Back page
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