IF TALKS on a balanced budget collapse, the plan for bailing out the thrift insurance fund could crash, too.

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THE NUMBER of bank branches in supermarkets grew 25% last year, says a First Data Corp. subsidiary that promotes the movement. Page 6


WITH THE POPULATION of full-time farmers dwindling, Iowa banker Ross Stuedemann has targeted a new niche to generate new business - city-folk who are becoming part-time farmers.

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BY BIDDING to buy a stock bank, Jewett City Savings Bank, a mutual savings bank, has pointed up a gap in Connecticut laws that complicates the process and drives up the cost.

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WHEN IT COMES to capital reserves, the nation's credit unions can boast of an embarrassment of riches. Observers suggest that it might be time to reduce capital ratios and put excess funds to work.

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A JOINT VENTURE between California's largest credit union and a state trade association is heating up auto lending across the state and generating an influx of new business.

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EXECUTIVES at St. Louis' Mark Twain Bancshares are betting their new wrap accounts will help their brokers compete with nonbank rivals. The product relies on outside money managers, with fees ranging from 1.23% to 3% of assets.

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UPBEAT earnings reports for the fourth quarter sent bank technology stocks soaring last week. Page 16

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DESPITE THE LOSS of BankAmerica Texas as a client, earnings were up 18% in Affiliated Computer Services' latest quarter.

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CANADA's International Verifact has devised a card reader that can understand both magnetic stripes and computer chips. It can be used in pay telephones, vending machines, gaming equipment, point of sale terminals, and other applications.

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THE R-WORD is beginning to creep into more economists' scenarios for the year. Several give a recession at least an even chance.

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RELATIVELY STABLE interest rates and corporate wariness about exotic derivatives contributed to a 7.2% drop in trading volume last year at two of Chicago's biggest exchanges.

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