Michael Chertoff is returning to the Senate Banking Committee as special counsel for the upcoming Whitewater hearings. Mr. Chertoff, a lawyer with New York's Latham & Watkins, served as counsel to the Republicans during last year's Whitewater inquiry.

Mr. Chertoff, a Harvard-trained lawyer, clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan and served as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. As U.S. Attorney he directed major investigations into political corruption and prosecuted executives at several New Jersey thrifts.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato said Mr. Chertoff had played "a vital role in the professional and fair hearings" on Whitewater that were held last year by his Democratic predecessor.

"There are many questions that remain unresolved," the New York Republican continued. "Some of these questions go to the very heart of our democratic government. The American people have a right to the full facts about Whitewater and related matters. We in Congress have a duty to pursue the answers to these questions."

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Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan delivered a masterful no-comment comment to a House Commerce Committee member last week.

During a joint Commerce subcommittee hearing on Glass-Steagall legislation, Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., repeatedly questioned the Fed chief about whether a bank should be allowed to sell "dangerous inverse floater" securities within the institution or in a separately capitalized subsidiary.

Mr. Greenspan gave an innocent enough answer.

"If I concluded it would be dangerous, it should be nowhere," Mr. Greenspan said.

And Rep. Markey responded with nothing but praise.

"I admire your ability at perfecting the art of evasiveness."

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The Resolution Trust Corp's top lawyer plans to leave the agency in July, six months before it ceases to exist.

Ellen B. Kulka, the RTC's general counsel since January 1994, said she plans to leave the federal government but did not say where she's going.

In her resignation letter to her boss, RTC acting CEO John E. Ryan, Ms. Kulka said that by the end of this month "a significant portion of the planning for the transition of the RTC back to the FDIC will have been accomplished."

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When the Fed roars, the markets shiver. Not so Bert Ely, the consultant who made his reputation by predicting both the demise of the nation's thrifts and the recovery of the banking industry.

Instead, Mr. Ely believes the Fed is a "toothless tiger" that holds sway over the markets only because of the perception that it can control monetary policy.

Mr. Ely is scheduled to tell the National Economists Club Tuesday that the Fed has no real control over short-term interest rates, save its fearsome reputation.

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Cliff Northrup, a former Treasury Department lobbyist, has joined a lobbying firm, Boland & Madigan, where he will be working primarily on legislative issues.

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