WASHINGTON - Chief economists at nine of the nation's largest banks are not alarmed by recent credit-quality scares at Wachovia Corp. and Unionbancal Corp.

"Credit quality is still excellent," said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist for LaSalle Bank/ABN Amro of Chicago and chairman of the American Bankers Association's economic advisory committee, which released its semiannual forecast Wednesday. "While we may not be as perfect as we were 12 months ago, the banking industry is still very well reserved, credit standards have been reinforced in some cases, and as long as we can engineer a smooth progression to a soft landing, we aren't expecting major credit events, either in the markets or in the banking system, to undermine the quality of the expansion or the civility of the system," he said.

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