New York Gov. George E. Pataki last week nominated Elizabeth McCaul to be the state's top banking regulator. Ms. McCaul has been acting superintendent since 1997 and was previously the department's first deputy.

In a speech last week, Ms. McCaul offered double Community Reinvestment Act credit to state banks making "multi-year, multi-faceted commitments to programs for low- and moderate-income youths."

The department began giving double CRA credit for lending to child care centers last year.

An investment banker with Goldman Sachs & Co. for 10 years before joining the banking department, Ms. McCaul would have to be confirmed by the state Senate.

"Ms. McCaul's ability to foster a fair and competitive banking market and her vigilance in protecting the banking consumers of New York State make her an outstanding administrator and an important contributor to New York's continuing economic resurgence," Gov. Pataki said.

"I have complete confidence that she will continue to distinguish herself as superintendent."

Lawyer-turned-regulator-turned-banker Eugene Ludwig made a rare public policy speech last week. Harkening to his early days as Comptroller of the Currency, the Deutsche Bank vice chairman urged the industry to treat customers fairly - all customers, not just the ones with gobs of money."I suspect that just how successful each of our companies will be and how successful American finance will be will turn on just how fairly we treat our customers and how compassionately we treat the less fortunate among us," Mr. Ludwig said in a speech about the future of financial services.

Lest his audience needed convincing, Mr. Ludwig added: "It is no coincidence that financial modernization was enacted after a sustained period of community development on the part of the banking industry."

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm has received some intriguing gifts this holiday season.Committee staff members recently gave the Civil War buff a collection of writings by Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain, the Union leader credited with turning the tide at the Battle of Gettysburg. The book's title is apt for the aggressive Sen. Gramm: Bayonets Forward.

"We told him it was actually the true story of Gramm-Leach-Bliley," a Senate Banking spokeswoman said, referring to the recently enacted financial reform law.

To thank the crafty Texas Republican for helping spearhead the reform law, Consumer Bankers Association president Joe Belew gave him a poker vest with four aces and a deuce tucked in the front pocket because, Mr. Belew said, "Sen. Gramm plays his cards close to the vest."

The merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group last year to form Citigroup may have been a bold experiment for their executives, but Federal Reserve Board Governor Laurence H. Meyer said it was a bit of a test run for the central bank, too."At the Federal Reserve, we face the immediate challenge of learning more about the risks of new permissible activities - especially insurance underwriting and merchant banking," he said in a speech Wednesday. "During the past year, we made a head start on insurance activities as we developed procedures for supervising Citigroup."

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