The latest FDIC survey of real estate conditions shows less improvement than in any other poll since late 1992. Housing markets "may have leveled off or temporarily stalled," FDIC Chairman Ricki Helfer said. Page 2

Legislation demanding that creditors consider a bill as paid on the date a check was mailed took a beating on Capitol Hill. Page 2


Under a new computerized program, Fed examiners could be spending 30% less time in banks. The central bank will automated loan analysis system, Examiner Workstation, at the IBAA convention in Las Vegas next week. Page 5

Patriot National Bank in the nation's capital has used the Small Business Administration's loan guarantees to build assets and boost CRA- related lending. Page 5


In an open letter to Newt Gingrich, former FDIC Chairman William M. Isaac urges a legislative program including merger of the bank and thrift funds. Page 7

SPECIAL REPORT AS TECHNOLOGY transfor ms the mortgage industry , originators, underwriters, and others are scrambling to keep pace. A special supplement summarizes the impact of the latest advances and warns of pitfalls . As KPMG Peat Marwick says, technology investment doesn't guarantee bottom line improvement. Pullout section


Assets in mutual fund wrap accounts jumped 60% last year, but those in bank-managed wraps swelled more than twice as fast. Page 9

PNC's Midlantic Bank in New Jersey is courting the up-and-coming rich as private banking clients. It's using splashy advertising to attract baby boomers with as little as $50,000, reasoning that many will soon inherit more. Page 8


North Carolina's two banking trade groups face fundamental change in the wake of the collapse of their merger plans last week. Page 10

New Hampshire was among the first Northeast states to pass enabling legislation under the federal branching law. But now officials are worried that the legislation is too restrictive. Page 10


The high cost of technology is making it tough for small and midsize mortgage servicers to compete with the industry's behemoths. Page 12

Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. is the latest to develop a proprietary "mortgage score" to rate the riskiness of home loans. Page 12


Merchants may like smart cards in theory, but in practice it's a different story. The lack of standards and the high cost of upgrading are big concerns. Page 13

Fair, Isaac & Co., the big statistical modeler, has created a scorecard for issuers of small-business cards under the sponsorship of Visa U.S.A. Page 13


An Atlanta group has secured financing for what would be the nation's third "virtual bank" on the Internet. Page 14

The Postal Service plans to gradually reduce the number of cash managers it does business with to fewer than 1,000. About half of the nation's commercial banks now provide such services to help deal with the $80 billion-a-year cash flow. Page 14


Short-sellers have been swarming over Olympic Financial since shares of the auto finance company peaked in October. The short position of nearly five million shares was the largest among finance-related issues traded on the Nasdaq for the month ended Feb. 15. Page 20

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