JONATHAN J. PALMER of Barnett Banks says its pilot-test deal with the Publix supermarket chain is just the beginning. He's looking to put a branch in every Publix in Florida - and there are 439 of them. Page 6 NEW YORK CITY's public advocate says the fees that banks charge its small and midsize businesses are way out of line. Banks challenge some of his data and point out that their fees reflect costs that are higher than elsewhere. Page 7 WASHINGTON: THE HOUSE and Senate banking committees agreed to bar the FDIC from building its reserves beyond 1.25%. The reserve cap would be a victory for banks, setting the stage for 92% of the industry to get deposit insurance for free. Page 2 DESPITE DEEP CUTS in its current budget and a move in Congress to end funding completely, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund is up and running. Page 3 COMMUNITY BANKING: POWERED BY a strong investor with a history of buying up ailing institutions and turning them around, tiny SDN Bancorp of Encinitas, Calif., may be looking to make a name for itself in Southern California community banking. Page 4 A FORMER DIRECTOR and his shareholder wife have filed lawsuits against a Connecticut bank, accusing several board members and the president of shirking their fiduciary duty by turning down a lucrative buyout offer from Fleet Financial. Page 4 INVESTMENT PRODUCTS: WHERE ARE THE BANKERS? That was the cry last week at the Bank Securities Association conference in Boston. Most of the 325 who showed up were vendors trying to sell products and services through banks.
Page 8 TWO AMBITIOUS bank mutual fund executives gave blow-by-blow accounts at the conference of how they are building programs at their banks. Page 8 CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs: WHO ISSUES the Discover card? It turns out that 70% of Discover cardholders don't know - and say they'd probably never own a credit card issued by a broker. Page 14 MEXICO GAVE EQUIFAX its blessing to begin operating as a credit bureau there. Trans Union got a similar go-ahead last month. Page 14 TECHNOLOGY: MORTGAGE BANKERS, who sink or swim with fluctuating interest rates, have traditionally paid most of their attention to building volume. But this labor-intensive and paper-oriented business is now in the throes of sweeping technological change. Page 18 MORTGAGES: WHY ARE mortgage lenders smiling these days? As a graphics package indicates, industry as well as economic factors are favorable, and home-loan volume is expected to soar. Page 10 FIRST UNION is revving up a wholesale engine to distribute home equity products across the country. The North Carolina bank's home equity unit will begin a push in January, aiming first at correspondent lenders that already offer its nonconforming mortgage loans. Page 10