T'was the week before Christmas,

And in every bank

The staff was considering

Whom all they should thank.

Of course, as they started

Preparing the list

They thought of the people

Who wouldn't be missed.

At the top were the lobbyists,

Who fight with endurance

Protecting the turf of those

Selling insurance,

And consumer activists

such as Ralph Nader,

Who call banks an evil

The likes of Darth Vader.

(They're the folks who feel bankers

Are just in the way,

So their assets should be packaged

And given away.)

And the banks found some new folks

With whom they must deal,

Like Alfonse D'Amato,

The Senate's big wheel.

And they had to cut fear

With some mighty sharp wedges

To prove that derivatives

Could just be sound hedges.

'Cause the public blamed banking

For igniting the fuel,

When the fault lies with gamblers

Abusing this tool.

But most news was good news,

It had to be said -

Like the soft steps of Greenspan,

The head of the Fed.

And then there were triumphs

It's easy to see,

Like bank equities soaring

And a rising P/E

And all through the nation

The banks clapped their hands

As the FDIC

Cut assessment demands.

And some banks made shareholders

A most happy flock

As they sold out at over

Twice book for the stock

(Of course no one noticed,

As the new stock they took,

That th'acquirer had also

Been priced at twice book.)

And community bankers

Had reason to cheer

As the merger of banks

Kept on right through the year,

'Cause the public was looking

For plain folks, like Truman,

And would switch to a bank

Where you'd still see a human.

So they moved to the banks

That were personally run -

Where your call would be answered,

"Hello," not "Push One."

And the threats of demise

Made the bankers just snore,

And they said of the fears,

"Why, we've seen this before."

So the lists to be thanked

Just grew row after row,

And banks face '96

Raring to go.

And a personal wish:

That a smile hits your face

When this column appears

Tuesday morn in this space

And maybe it will help you

Be a little bit wiser.

That's a holiday wish

From the Banking Adviser.

Mr. Nadler is a contributing editor of the American Banker and professor of finance at the Rutgers University Graduate School of Management.

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