Pro-ATM-Fee Ads May Play D'Amato's Political Game

Article excerpt

Banking trade groups have once again stepped into a political trap set by Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato over automated teller machine fees.

Backed by retailers and other business interests, the American Bankers Association and sister banking groups are placing advertisements in Washington newspapers and political publications this week urging Congress not to ban ATM surcharges.

Although the ads do not name the Senate Banking Committee chairman, they are clearly aimed at Sen. D'Amato's plan to attach his surcharge ban to must-pass legislation in September. His effort is widely expected to fail, but the ads succeed in painting him as a populist in an election year.

"Sometimes when you are fighting for the consumer, the big special interest groups don't like it," Sen. D'Amato said in a statement. "If they think they can intimidate me, they are wrong."

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan headlined the annual Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's economic conference Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Speaking on income inequality-the theme of this year's confab-Mr. Greenspan said economic growth was the key to reducing the divide between rich and poor. "Sustaining a healthy economy and a stable financial system naturally permits us to take the time to focus efforts on addressing the distributional issues facing our society," he said.

Other speakers at the conference included: Joseph Stiglitz, senior vice president of the World Bank; Assar Lindbeck, professor at Stockholm University; and Dennis Snower, professor at Birkbeck College at the University of London.

Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey says he wants banks to do a better job of guarding their customers' privacy.

During an Aug. 5 vote on a bill cracking down on fraudulent "information brokers," the New York Democrat offered an amendment that would have required financial institutions to get written consent before disclosing sensitive customer data. The House Banking Committee handily defeated it.

Rep. Hinchey complained a week later in a statement attached to the committee's official report on the legislation that the measure barely scratches the surface of what's needed. …