Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin swore in Nicolas P. Retsinas as director of the Office of Thrift Supervision Oct. 10. The event, held in Mr. Rubin's office, was a low-key affair and closed to reporters.

Those present included John F. Downey, OTS executive director of supervision, Robert R. Davis, director of government relations for America's Community Bankers, and the group's regulatory counsel Charlotte Bahin.

Mr. Retsinas reportedly was reluctant to take the job but did so to help Treasury out. However, he is hoping that he won't have to juggle this job and his duties at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Finance Board for too many months.

Probably no one was happier about the swearing-in than Jonathan L. Fiechter, who had put off taking a new job at the World Bank for more than a month to give Treasury more time to find a replacement.

He praised his successor for his "broad knowledge and understanding of the housing industry, and the role of the thrift industry in it." But he also urged Treasury to quickly find a permanent director to resolve uncertainty about the agency's future.

The thrift industry is healthy, and OTS is financially sound, he said. "The industry and the agency have great potential."


The night after President Bill Clinton signed the thrift fund rescue bill, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Ricki Helfer was at a popular D.C. watering hole, keeping a promise.

She had pledged to William R. Watson, head of the FDIC's division of research, that if Congress passed the rescue legislation, she'd buy a round of drinks for him and the FDIC staff who had worked on the issue.

True to her word, Ms. Helfer picked up the tab at Maison Blanche for Mr. Watson and 20 staffers, including Dennis F. Geer, chief operating officer, Alice C. Goodman, director of the office of legislative affairs, Leslie A. Woolley, Ms. Helfer's policy deputy, and Arthur J. Murton, director of the division of insurance. Also toasting the event with beer, wine, and soft drinks were Treasury Under Secretary John D. Hawke, Assistant Treasury Secretary Richard S. Carnell, and Mr. Fiechter.

"The best $215 I ever spent," said Ms. Helfer, adding "for the record, it was (on) my personal credit card."


Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato seemed to be taking swipes at Rep. Jim Leach, his House counterpart, during an Oct. 1 press conference marking passage of a securities reform bill.

While praising House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas Bliley for his work on the bill, Sen. D'Amato cast thinly veiled criticism on Rep. Leach for his well-publicized, but unsuccessful effort to repeal the Glass- Steagall Act.

"Congressman Bliley knows how to keep his cards close to the vest," Sen. D'Amato said. "He doesn't talk a lot, doesn't hold press conferences. Some of my colleagues in the Congress would do well to operate on that principle."

The New York Republican, who plans to take up Glass-Steagall repeal next year, predicted that his committee will be successful. "We're going to get it done," he said.


The Consumer Federation of America has endorsed 108 House and Senate incumbents for reelection in November - all Democrats.

On the list are 18 of the party's 23 House Banking Committee members.

The most surprising omission: the panel's ranking Democrat Henry Gonzalez, who has been a favorite of consumer groups for years. Is it possible that a man whose Internet home page includes a file titled "Top 10 Consumer Ripoffs" could fail to win the group's endorsement?

Yes. Turns out the Texas Democrat simply failed to turn in his homework.

Though his voting record qualifies him for an endorsement, Rep. Gonzalez didn't complete a survey on consumer issues that the group also required.

Still, its legislative counsel Bradley Stillman lauded the committee's former chairman. "In the last couple of years, his record has been outstanding," Mr. Stillman said. "He's certainly been a champion on important core banking issues."

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