For financial services companies, 1999 was a year marked by both triumph and travail.
Banks, insurers, and securities firms combined forces with Congress and the White House to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act. The banking industry once again achieved record earnings. And the year-2000 bug was squashed - or so it appeared at deadline on Dec. 30.
Meanwhile, banks failed at a pace not seen since 1995. Regulators struggled to rein in still other institutions beset by fraud, inexperience with securitizations, or underperforming subprime loans.
Looking ahead to the New Year, American Banker assembled a wish list for some of the industry's leading Washington personalities.
First, the regulators.
For Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose third term expires in June, a speedy reappointment. (Ditto for every person who believes Alan holds the strings that guide the U.S. economy.)
For Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Donna E. Tanoue, special software that prohibits the characters Y, 2, and K from appearing together ever again in a speech she must deliver. (Ditto for every reporter covering those speeches.)
For Office of Thrift Supervision Director Ellen Seidman, continued independence from the Comptroller's Office.
For Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke Jr., that banks switch all nonbank activities from holding company units to direct bank subsidiaries. (Volunteering to help with this list, Mr. Hawke, known for his love of opera, said he is resolved to teach his fellow regulators to sing in harmony in 2000.)
For all the banking regulators, that Securities and Exchange Commissioner Arthur D. Levitt stops criticizing bank loan-loss reserves and other accounting practices in 2000 and finds another industry to pick on.
For National Credit Union Administration Chairman Norman E. D'Amours and fellow board member Yolanda T. Wheat, who spent most of 1999 in a very nasty public war, couples therapy.
For Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight Director Armando Falcon, that capital rules for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, already five years in the making, finally get implemented. At least close the comment period.
Next, the lawmakers and others affected by Congress.
For House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, that his name go first the next time he chairs a harrowing conference committee like the one that produced the Gramm-Leach-Bliley financial reform law.
For House Banking's Marge Roukema and John J. LaFalce, who are in line to succeed Rep. Leach, that their parties win enough seats to control the House.
For Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm, that Texas Gov. George W. Bush wins the presidential election. Can you say Treasury Secretary Gramm?
For Bank of America's Hugh McColl Jr., that Congress rejigger the law barring any bank from holding more than 10% of the nation's deposits.
For former Chase Manhattan executive Carol Parry, that the Senate finally confirm her for a seat on the Fed board.
Finally, the trade group leaders.
For Financial Services Roundtable president Steve Bartlett, that an insurance company or a securities firm finally becomes a member.
For America's Community Bankers president Diane M. Casey and Independent Community Bankers of America executive vice president Kenneth A. Guenther, a clear-cut definition of what the difference is between America's community bankers and independent community bankers, and a good reason why Washington lawmakers should take the time to listen to both of them.
For American Bankers Association executive vice president Donald A. Ogilvie, that the other leaders fail to find that definition, and someone - anyone - agrees to merge with them.
And for all trade group leaders, a new political hot potato the size of financial reform to remind members why it is they pay dues.
Banking lawyer Barbara Timmer is leaving Washington for San Francisco where, starting Jan. 10, she will be in-house counsel for MyPrimeTime.com, a demographic portal aimed at baby boomers."I just couldn't pass this up," Ms. Timmer said last week. "I could learn more in six months here than getting a PhD somewhere." Ms. Timmer, House Banking Committee general counsel from 1988-92, when two major banking bills were enacted, has been working at the Manatt Phelps & Phillips law firm only since Sept. 1, after nine months with Brand Lowell & Ryan, which disbanded. After Capitol Hill and before entering private law practice, Ms. Timmer was director of legislative and regulatory affairs for ITT and then H.F. Ahmanson & Co., the parent of Home Savings of America in Irwindale, Calif.
Ms. Timmer said she landed the job in a week, after calling to congratulate an acquaintance who is one of MyPrimeTime's founders.
Edward Derrill "Jack" Dunn, who was commissioner of Georgia's Department of Banking and Finance for 25 years, died Dec. 17 of arrhythmia.
The 74-year-old left his post in 1997, having served four governors, including Jimmy Carter, who first appointed Mr. Dunn. After Mr. Carter, Mr. Dunn served under George Busbee, Joe Frank Harris, and Zell Miller.
"One reason my husband said he served so long was that he never had a governor ask him to do anything he should not," Betty Hall Dunn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Before becoming a regulator, Mr. Dunn was president of Glenwood National Bank in Decatur, Ga., which his father had owned.