American Bankers Association chief lobbyist Edward L. Yingling last week let Senate leaders know what kind of Savings Association Insurance Fund rescue package his group would support.

In an Aug. 12 letter to Trent Lott, majority leader, Mr. Yingling said the association endorses a package put together by House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach. The measure would capitalize the thrift fund, pare regulations, and protect banks from environmental liability.

Mr. Yingling noted that similar provisions exist in various pieces of Senate legislation.

"The Senate Banking Committee has already completed most of the groundwork necessary to move forward," Mr. Yingling wrote. "Both the House and Senate have very similar bills under consideration that could be brought together in a package approach."

However, he warned the industry's support is not ironclad.

"This is a very bitter pill for banks and their customers to swallow," he said, adding that any new limitations on bank powers would kill the association's support for the package.

The association sent similar letters to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato, the panel's top Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes, and Tom Daschle, minority leader.

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Judicial jokester? Chief Judge Loren A. Smith of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims probably should not give up his day job for a career as a comedian. The judge, who is handling the goodwill cases, tried to enliven a recent hearing in U.S. v. Winstar with the following joke:

The goodwill cases, he said, "remind me of the story of the man who finds the bottle and opens the bottle on the beach. And the genie pops out and says, 'You have one wish to help the world.'

"The person thinks and says, 'How about a cure for cancer? That would save lots of people.' "The genie said, 'Oh, that's awfully hard. It's very technical, and there's a lot of research and people to be hired if we do that.'

"The man says, 'Well, how about world peace? Could there be world peace? There's a map of the world and all these countries here and Bosnia and fighting in the Middle East.' And the genie says, 'I don't know. That's a very tough thing. Lots of people involved.'

"I was going to add, well, maybe you could bring coherence and order to the Winstar case.

"And then the genie would say, 'Let me see that map of the world again.'"

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