Hosting a hearing last week on the crisis engulfing Long-Term Capital Management, House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach got a chance to delve into a complicated issue with implications for international markets and domestic financial services policy.

He loved every minute of it.

The Iowa Re- publican's five-page, single-spaced opening statement covered everything from probing the Federal Reserve's role in arranging a rescue for the failing hedge fund to questioning whether the banks funding the bailout are violating antitrust laws. (Rep. Leach noted that Long-Term Capital executives and leaders of the six companies now running the hedge fund had declined his invitation to testify.)

A former State Department foreign service officer, Rep. Leach analyzed the rescue's role on the global stage.

"The Long-Term Capital saga is fraught with ironies related to moral authority as well as moral hazard," Rep. Leach said. "The Fed's intervention comes at a time when our government has been preaching to foreign governments ... that the way to modernize is to let weak institutions fail and rely on market mechanisms rather than insider bailouts ....

"Now as the country with the most sophisticated markets, bankruptcy laws, and legal precedents, we appear to have abandoned the model we urge others to follow."

Quitting as quietly as he had served, Joseph H. Neely left the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board last week.

In the three weeks after announcing his resignation, Mr. Neely re-mained curiously tight-lipped about his professional future. Though he did not return numerous calls, this much is known: He will return to his native Mississippi and become a consultant for an established firm. He would not identify the firm, or say why he left office Oct. 1 after serving less than half of a six-year term.

Sen. Richard C. Shelby is waging a tough battle against the financial services reform bill on Capitol Hill, but the Alabama Republican's reelection race back home in Alabama may be no contest.

His Demo-cratic challen-ger, Clayton Suddith, has pleaded guilty to public intoxication and paid a $220 fine, according to the Associated Press. A police officer found Mr. Suddith staggering across the parking lot of an inn near the Montgomery statehouse.

"I had beer on my breath," Mr. Suddith told the wire service. "The policeman arrested me, and he done his job."

The Alabama Democratic Party has refused to give financial backing to the retired ironworker and former Franklin County commissioner.

Though Sen. Shelby has raised millions, Mr. Suddith had to pawn his pickup truck to afford the qualifying fee for the campaign.

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