WASHINGTON Technology will be the savior banks or a demon, depending on how they react to it, experts preached at the Chicago Fed's annual conference. Page 2 The California Bankers Association is courting the Western League of Savings Institutions in hope of a merger. Page 3 CREDIT/DEBIT/ATMs CARD FRONTIERS: Some Fed economists are pouring intellectual cold water on smart cards. Page 4 REGIONAL BANKING Whitney Holding of New Orleans has finally gotten the retail presence it has wanted along the Gulf of Mexico with the acquisition of a Mississippi bank. Page 7 MORTGAGES PHH US Mortgage is partnering with credit card specialist First USA to market a credit card that people can use to shop for a home. Page 8 marketing home equity loans should get easier soon because lenders will be able to offer preapproved second mortgages more easily. Page 9 INVESTMENT PRODUCTS Barnett, a pioneer in insurance, has started selling auto coverage throughout Florida, and chief asset management executive Richard H. Jones says there are more offerings on the horizon. The Jacksonville-based bank will begin selling homeowners insurance this summer. Page 22 As the nation's 77 million baby boomers start reaching their 50s, more financial service companies are chasing the market to tap its assets. Page 22 COMMUNITY BANKING The 100 largest credit unions boosted net income and membership last year twice as fast as their industry as a whole. Page 11 CORPORATE FINANCE Citicorp, which used to deploy bankers in multiple waves to bring back global corporate business, is consolidating into a single army. Page 17 A $2 billion syndicated loan for the nation's largest chain of grocery stores will put loans to the industry on track to top last year's volume of $5.9 billion in only the first five months of this year. Page 17 TECHNOLOGY The Banking Industry Technology Secretariat formed a strategic alliance with the Financial Services Technology Consortium. Page 18 Barnett's experiment with interactive television will come to a close with mixed results. Page 18 MARKET MONITOR Famed investor Warren E. Buffett reiterated his confidence in Salomon Brothers at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting in Omaha. Page 30 Southern National plans to buy Virginia First Financial in a deal valued at $148.4 million. Page 30
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