WASHINGTON

THE RUMOR MILL at the FDIC keeps churning out reports that Chairman Ricki Helfer is quitting, but she's denying it. Page 2

TWO FORMER PRESIDENTS of Connecticut banks pleaded guilty in unrelated fraud cases, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut reported. Page 5

REGIONAL BANKING

PAUL ERDMAN, father of the financial thriller, is at it again. The 64- year-old writer and lecturer is about to launch his latest tale of financial intrigue called "The Set-Up." Two years in the making, it is the latest in a long line of financial thrillers that began in 1973. Page 6

COMMUNITY BANKING

REGIONAL BANKS are picking up respectable shares of the farm business in several key states as they buy up traditional farm lenders. Page 9

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

FIRST CHICAGO completed the yearlong merger of mutual funds brought together by the marriage of First Chicago and NBD Bancorp. Page 11

NATIONAL CITY is trying to appeal to tomorrow's wealthy with an asset allocation program it inherited from Integra Financial. Page 12

SMALL BUSINESS BANKING

A MILWAUKEE LENDER is chucking its small-business investment company license after a three-year funding feud with Washington to become a bank. Page 13

THE BATTLE between banks and nonbanks over small-business market share is getting hotter daily, an industry consultant said. Page 14

TECHNOLOGY

BANK TECHNOLOGY stocks generally rose, in lockstep with the broader stock and bond markets that were buoyed by economic news suggesting no immediate rise in interest rates. Page 15

PEGASYSTEMS, a provider of customer service software to major financial services organizations, entered into a joint marketing agreement with Sun Microsystems. Page 16

MORTGAGES

A SMALL CALIFORNIA independent mortgage lender is expanding its geographic base in order to survive. Page 18

COUNTRYWIDE CREDIT Industries reported a drop in loan funding and a smaller pipeline in September, confirming earlier indications that loan volume is slowing. Page 19

MARKET MONITOR

SOLID CAR lenders' stocks are rebounding from last year's investor panic. Page 25

ECONOMISTS are sharply divided on how September's job market contraction will affect inflation. Page 25

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