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1998-02-10 22:30:51


Lawmakers Warn of Banking Chaos. It May Be Too Late.



Senators and Congressmen have warned the FDIC that it's moving too slowly. The FDIC insures America's banks and thrift institutions.

An FDIC spokesman says everything is just fine. It's all on schedule. Don't worry.

This is a Reuter's story posted on MSNBC (Feb. 10).

* * * * * * *

— BOB BENNETT,Republican U.S. senator from Utah

“YOU NEED TO DO more and you need to do it faster,” Bob Bennett, a Utah Republican who chairs the financial services subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee, told Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. officials. . . .

“Unless more leadership and commitment are brought to bear on this problem, I fear a potential for financial chaos for many bank customers,” Bennett warned.

The FDIC insures deposits at more than 11,000 banks and savings institutions. Together, these institutions are responsible for more than $6 trillion in assets and have insured deposits totaling in excess of $2.7 trillion. The agency also supervises 6,200 institutions, which on average have $250 million in assets.

“If Year 2000 issues are not adequately addressed, key automated bank systems — affecting trillions of dollars in assets, transactions and insured deposits — are subject to serious consequences ranging from malfunction to failure,” Jack Brock, a GAO official, said in testimony before Bennett’s panel. . . .

That means automatic teller machines, wire transfer systems, check clearing, security vaults and even telephone systems may not work on Jan. 1, 2000. . . .

Michael Zamorski, deputy director of the FDIC’s division of supervision, assured the Senate panel that his agency is cooperating with other federal and state bank regulators to help combat potential troubles among banks and regulators.

Zamorski said the FDIC has identified a “small percentage” of institutions that are not acting as quickly as they should but said the “great majority” of FDIC-supervised institutions are taking appropriate action.

“We are aggressively monitoring institutions where we have identified problems and, where we do not see prompt improvement, are pursuing more stringent supervisory action,” Zamorski said.


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