And in This Corner...

So far, the battle between the Federal Reserve Board and Bloomberg News over naming borrowers from the discount window has been mostly limited to the courtroom.

But that is likely to change when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke gives a speech to the Economic Club of New York today. The club said Matthew Winkler, Bloomberg's editor in chief, will question Bernanke after his prepared remarks.

Winkler will be joined by Henry Kaufman, the president of the consulting firm Henry Kaufman & Co. LLC, in quizzing Bernanke.

Winkler's news organization sued the Fed earlier this year after its Freedom of Information Act request for the identities of discount window users was turned down.

The central bank has argued that releasing such information would have grave consequences for financial markets and could lead to runs on institutions revealed to be taking money from the central bank.

A federal judge sided with Bloomberg in August, but the Fed quickly won an order delaying the decision as the central bank appeals. But Winkler has kept the pressure on the Fed, writing an editorial in September in The Wall Street Journal.

"There has been far too little accountability at the Fed for how it used taxpayer money to save banks that failed their shareholders and creditors by making bets that didn't pay off," he wrote.

Gods and Bankers

Not everyone is hating bankers these days.

Stephen Colbert, the host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," defended them on the fake-news show last week — and maybe even deified them a little.

Noting that these are "scary economic times," Colbert said that President Obama is openly hostile to banks.

"He doesn't even bother to say 'please' anymore when he asks the banks if they would be willing to consider regulating themselves — if that's OK with them," Colbert said.

Colbert also riffed on a comment from Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, that his institution was doing "God's work."

"I've always believed that bankers are God's representatives on Earth," Colbert said. "They are like the pope, if the Vatican were incorporated in Delaware. And yes, Jesus did banish the money lenders from the temple, but that's just because he knew they had to diversify. There's no future in rebundling burnt-offering derivatives."

Global Affair

The closing of United Commercial Bank on Nov. 6 was not the biggest failure of the crisis, but it may have been the most global.

The seizure involved the rare but not unprecedented step of sending an FDIC group to foreign soil.

The $11 billion-asset bank was based in San Francisco. But with branches in four different time zones, its reopening last week as part of East West Bank required Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. teams to spread out around the world.

The agency sent about half a dozen people to Hong Kong — which is about 12 hours ahead of Washington — to help reopen UCB's branch there last Monday. The agency also sent teams to Boston, New York, Atlanta and Texas to coordinate the transfer of the bank's operations.

"It was a widely dispersed operation," an FDIC spokesman said.


Though Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd introduced an ambitious regulatory reform bill last week, some are beginning to question his decision to retain the panel's gavel.

The Connecticut Democrat, who is in a tight re-election race next year, was offered a chance to chair the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee earlier this year but chose to hunker down to work on reg reform.

The newspaper Politico said the move "may be backfiring."

It cited a poll last week that showed Dodd behind by 11 points to his top Republican challenger, Rep. Rob Simmons.

"Just being associated with the word 'banking' can't be a good thing," said Doug Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac poll, according to Politico.

The paper also noted that Dodd's challengers used the reform bill as a talking point.

"Sen. Dodd's eleventh-hour conversion to consumer activist cannot paper over his central role in creating our current economic crisis and his long and cozy relationship with Wall Street," Simmons said in a statement.

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