Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan was on the road for his 74th birthday last week, but the special occasion did not go uncelebrated. Speaking at a conference on the "new economy" at Boston College Monday, Mr. Greenspan was given a birthday cake by his hosts.

The years do not appear to be slowing the central bank chief or diminishing the esteem in which bankers hold him. He spoke in San Antonio two days later, at an Independent Community Bankers of America conference, and received a standing ovation from the crowd before the first words were out of his mouth.


Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm wants to make one thing clear to bankers: He is on the side of the angels."I represent good in this city. If anybody else claims to represent the public interest other than me, be suspicious," the Texas Republican said last week at the annual government affairs conference of America's Community Bankers.

He left little doubt about who he believes is on the other side - particularly on the issue of the languishing bankruptcy reform legislation.

"The problem is that the Democrats are not really for this bill but they want the baby to die on someone else's doorstep," Sen. Gramm said. "We want to be sure that if it is killed - if it is brutally murdered - we want bloodstains on their shoes."


?Democrats were not the only ones to feel Sen. Gramm's ire last week. In a confirmation hearing for prospective U.S. Mint Director Jay Johnson, according to Coin World newspaper, he blasted the Mint for producing coins that he described as "crummy … just plain crummy."

During the hearing, the senator reportedly took the new Sacagawea dollar coin, introduced with great fanfare last month, bounced it on a table, and complained that it is not "hefty" enough. But Sen. Gramm's objections did not derail the nomination; Senate Banking voted Wednesday to confirm Mr. Johnson and sent his nomination to the Senate floor.


The Independent Community Bankers of America held its 70th annual convention last week in San Antonio, and its top staff member, Kenneth A. Guenther, celebrated his 20th anniversary with the group and was given a standing ovation.Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Donna A. Tanoue and Federal Housing Finance Board Chairman Bruce A. Morrison saluted Mr. Guenther in their speeches, and the eight bankers on the association's executive committee gave a commemorative crystal to their executive vice president.

Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke Jr. acknowledged the milestone, too, but suggested another gift for Mr. Guenther, who faxes "Guenther-grams" - notes pecked out on an old typewriter - around the country.

"If I might be so presumptuous," Mr. Hawke said, "I'd like to suggest to the ICBA leadership that an ideal anniversary present for Ken would be a new typewriter."


House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas J. Bliley Jr. announced last week that he will retire when his term expires at yearend. The Virginia Republican frankly acknowledged at a press conference, according to Roll Call newspaper, that a key factor is the Republican Party's six-year term limit on chairmanships, which would have forced him to relinquish his post as committee boss.Reps. Michael G. Oxley, R-Ohio, and W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, R-La., are vying to succeed him as chairman. House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach plans, if reelected, to step aside as his panel's chief next year. Observers are watching to see whether Republican leaders, assuming they retain control of the House, will use the occasion to settle longtime jurisdictional disputes between the committees.


Barry P. Harris, chief counsel for Banc of America Investment Services, is going to be chairing the Securities Industry Association's bank retail broker/dealer regulatory committee. The post had been held by Deborah H. Kaye, who has moved out of the realm of the committee's jurisdiction now that she is deputy general counsel for the National Discount Brokers Group.


Lawrence O'Toole, the top lobbyist for Sallie Mae, will leave June 30 to "pursue other opportunities," a spokesman said. A press release stated that he will still advise Sallie Mae on government relations matters. Mr. O'Toole joined the Virginia-based education loans provider in July when it merged with Nellie Mae. He had been credited with building Nellie Mae's portfolio of $3 billion of student loans as founding president and chief executive officer. Executive vice president Paul Carey will take charge of government relations.


The Securities and Exchange Commission has promoted Tracey E. Aronson, formerly counsel to Chairman Arthur Levitt, to director of congressional and intergovernmental affairs. Ms. Aronson, a graduate of Georgetown University Law School, succeeds Susan Ferris Wyderko, who has moved to director of the office of investor education and assistance.

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