Two banking power brokers powwowed last week, but a meeting of the minds it wasn't.
At the end of a tense week, House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach met with Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig in the Iowa Republican's office on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Leach had lashed out at Mr. Ludwig in speeches Monday and Wednesday, accusing him of "presumptive hubris."
The controversy stems from the agency's decision to allow a state bank converting to a federal charter to retain activities not allowed national banks. Rep. Leach said the Magna Bank decision violates the National Bank Act. While neither side would say much about the tete-a-tete, apparently the two men did not come to any agreements.
"It was a straightforward exchange of conflicting views," according to a House Banking spokesman. "I don't think there was resolution of any of the outstanding issues between them."
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Rep. Leach was on a roll last week.
Blasting a plan by the Farm Credit System to charter a credit union in Wisconsin, he said a precedent would immediately be established for other government sponsored enterprises - Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Home Loan Banks - to become deposit taking institutions. "That is why it is so critical this charter application be nipped at its roots before the weed is given a chance to grow.
"Such an arrangement might be appropriate in a socialist economy, but it is an abridgement of a free-market system."
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Big-bank CEOs, meeting with Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich Friday, argued against tacking the Savings Association Insurance Fund rescue onto unrelated legislation.
The speaker "appeared to be sympathetic with our view that it be dealt with on a comprehensive basis," said American Bankers Association executive vice president Donald G. Ogilvie.
Rep. Gingrich also told the American Bankers Council, a unit of the ABA for the top officials at money-center and regional banks, that the House may vote on stand-alone regulatory relief bill later this year.
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Industry consultant Bert Ely built his reputation on accurate predictions, often infuriating the folks at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
After addressing the Independent Bankers Association of America's convention in Las Vegas last week, FDIC Chairman Ricki Helfer was asked about the feasibility of private deposit insurance - a notion strongly advocated by Mr. Ely.
"It is difficult to imagine a private system that carries the same protections as a government system," Ms. Helfer said. "It won't be the first time Bert Ely is wrong."
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Also at the FDIC . . . Claude Rollin is special assistant to Joe Neely, the agency's newest board member. Mr. Rollin, 34, has worked in the FDIC's legal division for 10 years, drafting regulations and legislation. He'll help Mr. Neely, a former banker and state regulator from Mississippi, adjust to life on the five-member board.
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It's no accident that listeners often cannot comprehend the words of Federal Reserve Board officials, one of them suggests.
Speaking at an International Swaps and Derivatives Association conference in San Francisco Thursday, Patrick Parkinson, an associate director of research and statistics at the Fed, started off with a disclaimer that his words reflected his own opinions and not those of the Federal Reserve Board.
Then he added that, in any case, "If I say something interesting or even understandable, you can infer that it is my own opinion, because otherwise it would be a clear violation of board policy."