Kia Motors America has hit a sore spot with the industry.
A commercial for the Korean carmaker features customers lined up to withdraw money from a bank in anticipation of year-2000 computer troubles. It then touts a Kia car as one product you can rely upon into the next century.
"I am worried that even your tongue-in-cheek message could negatively influence some people's behavior regarding Y2K," wrote Donald G. Ogilvie, executive vice president of the American Bankers Association. "The last thing this country wants, or can afford, is a bank run. We urge you to promptly withdraw this advertisement."
But Kia has no plan to kill the ad. "We are not going to withdraw the spot, and given my confidence in the American banking system, I'm not going to withdraw my money either," said Jim Sanfilippo, Kia's vice president of marketing.
Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm did his best to put on a gracious public face during Senate debate on the financial reform bill last week.
During opening remarks, the Texas Republican apologized for the adversarial stance he has taken toward Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.
He even used humor to defuse the partisan tension. When Sen. Gramm asserted that small banks have spent $1.3 trillion to comply with the Community Reinvestment Act in this decade, Sen. Sarbanes said that Sen. Gramm's own figures on the cost and number of exams totaled $1 billion. Sen. Gramm responded without missing a beat: "If it's a billion or a trillion, it's a lot of money."
A dictionary would have been a big help in deciphering Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan's big speech on the economy last week.
When Mr. Greenspan tossed out "benevolent but bedeviling" questions and dissected the roots of our "remarkably quiescent inflation," his audience nodded.
But when "pure economic endogeniety" was followed by a sentence including "largely sui generis to the post-World War II period," people were turning to each other with questioning looks. And that was the reaction of people attending the Chicago Fed's Conference on Bank Structure and Competition. Imagine what people on the other end of the nine television cameras broadcasting the speech were thinking.