The Federal Housing Finance Board has hired Connecticut psychologist David Berg to referee the annual meeting of Federal Home Loan bank directors.

A Finance Board spokeswoman described Mr. Berg as "an organizational development specialist" who will "facilitate the dialogue" among agency officials and 188 Home Loan bank directors during their two-day gathering, which starts today.

They face a host of controversial issues including Finance Board Chairman Bruce A. Morrison's campaign to scale back the banks' nonhousing investments and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato's proposal to abolish the board.

"This system is facing change, and change is very difficult," the spokeswoman said. "We wanted the banks to be able to have a very free and open discussion."

Many participants were skeptical. "Why is Morrison hiring a psychologist when what he wants is a hypnotist?" one observer asked.

Yet Alfred A. DelliBovi, the outspoken president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, said the psychologist is worth a shot.

"Clearly there are some people snickering on the side," he said, but "having someone skilled at reconciling differences so that we can go forward has got to be a plus .... We know what doesn't work, so we might as well try something new."

Just when House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach seemed to have patched up their differences, Republican hardliners are resurrecting questions about Rep. Leach's party loyalty.

Rep. Robert Ehrlich of Maryland fingered Rep. Leach as one of a group of party members who frequently vote with Democrats, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported last week. The independent-minded Rep. Leach has crossed swords recently with party leaders on campaign finance reform, labor, and affirmative-action issues.

Three weeks ago, when the speaker's visible lobbying efforts produced a 214-to-213 victory for the financial reform legislation sponsored by Rep. Leach, Banking Committee staffers crowed. They said this disproved critics who had said the speaker would squelch the Iowa Republican's legislative effort out of revenge. Rep. Leach quite publicly opposed Rep. Gingrich's reelection as House leader last year.

For the record, Rep. Leach voted with his party 71% of the time in 1997, 68% in 1996, and 78% in 1995.

Barry R. Snyder last week was named inspector general of the Federal Reserve Board, succeeding Brent L. Bowen, who retired.

Mr. Snyder has been assistant inspector general since 1989. He joined the inspector general's office in 1987 as a senior auditor.

The Investment Company Institute last week hired Timothy J. Forde to be vice president of strategic analysis.

In the new post, Mr. Forde will be in charge of scrutinizing public policy issues for the mutual fund industry trade group. He most recently was a senior policy adviser to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt.

The Senate recently confirmed Patrick A. Mulloy as assistant secretary of commerce for free trade.

Mr. Mulloy has worked for the Senate Banking Committee since 1983, serving most recently as chief Democratic counsel on international trade and finance.

"I can think of no one better prepared or suited to serve in the position," said his boss, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md. "He also brings a passionate personal commitment to opening foreign markets to U.S. exports and expanding job opportunities for American workers."

Banking commissioners from Tennessee and Utah have joined the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council's state liaison committee.

The council is an umbrella organization for the five banking, thrift, and credit union regulatory agencies. Joining the ranks of state officials advising the council are Bill C. Houston of Tennessee and G. Edward Leary of Utah.

Craig Dabroski has joined America's Community Bankers as an accounting specialist. A CPA and industry consultant, Mr. Dabroski most recently was director of business development at CoreStates Securities Corp., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Earlier he was national director of financial institutions regulatory relations for Arthur Young & Co. in Dallas and senior vice president at Kaplan, Smith & Associates in Washington.

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