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by DAVID BORAKSt its locations around the world, Bank of America Corp. has stockpiled millions of freshly minted euro banknotes in preparation for what some are calling E-Day -- the Jan. 1 launch of the paper-and-coin version of the euro, which will replace the currencies of 12 European nations. The company, North America's largest wholesaler of international bank notes to financial institutions, said Michael DeRocher, We are well prepared to meet the demand on the first day, and some clients, The switch to euro notes and coins is a major psychological milestone for more than 300 million residents in the 12 European countries, where currencies that have been used, in some places, for hundreds of years will be taken out of circulation. However, the switch should have little noticeable effect in the worlds of banking and business, which adopted the euro for foreign exchange and payments since Jan. 1, *1999-, said Steve Bash, The change is one part of the European Union's efforts to create a more cohesive and powerful market. Experts say the new currency will smooth trade and travel in Europe, and companies doing business there will have a clearer picture of pricing across the region, because in many cases, Wachovia Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., stopped handling letters of credit and some other transactions in the local currencies on Oct. 1, and it stopped conducting wire transfers in those currencies on Dec. 17. Many of Wachovia's corporate customers, particularly U.S. import-export businesses, already have begun quoting prices in euros to be competitive, At least one banking chore will get easier with the new bank notes and coins: Those institutions that handle foreign currency will have to inventory fewer units. Meanwhile, many U.S. banks have been able to consolidate accounts in European banks with which they have correspondent banking relationships. The euro notes will replace German marks, Irish punts, Dutch guilders, Greek drachmae, Italian lire, Finnish markka, Spanish pesetas, Austrian schillings, Portuguese escudos, and the francs of France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Businesses and consumers in those 12 countries have until the end of February to swap their local notes and coins for euros. Only three of the 15 European Union members -- Sweden, Great Britain, and Denmark -- are staying out of the monetary union. Switzerland, which is not an E.U. member
Published in American Banker (2002)
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by ALFRED DELLIBOVIThe American dream of homeownership is a reality for a record number of, families because community bankers are doing their jobs., Our record rate of homeownership has become the envy of the world. From nations all over the globe, government officials, bankers, builders, and community leaders come to the United States to find out how our nation has been able to create so many homeowners in such a relatively short period., They discover that a major part of the answer involves prudent public, policy decisions., In the earliest days of our republic, selling public land to raise, revenue was strongly supported. As the population grew and moved west, Yet there was always significant opposition to the homestead movement., Eastern employers did not want workers to have the option of leaving low-paying jobs to farm in the West, and eastern landowners feared the threat to land values posed by a huge public domain available free to anyone willing to settle it., After decades of fierce debate, the Homestead Act was signed into law, in 1862. The measure was a success. By 1900 more than 80 million acres had been claimed by 600, 000 homesteaders., Obstacles to growth in the real estate sector persisted, which authorized national banks to make mortgage loans., During the Great Depression a shortage of building and mortgage credit, was painfully obvious. To help meet this credit need, the Federal Home Loan Bank Act was signed into law in July 1932., To further increase the mortgage market's liquidity, Fannie Mae was, created a few years later. Working with community lenders, Fannie and the Federal Home Loan banks revolutionized the housing industry by pioneering the then-novel lower-down-payment, long-term, conventional, amortizing residential mortgage instrument that has become the foundation of homeownership in America., Today we take the 30-year mortgage for granted, but it is still not, available in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, or Japan., However, the 30-year mortgage transformed the lending industry. During the early 1940s, 43.6% of Americans owned their own homes. By *1950-, 55% had achieved this dream., Today the homeownership rate stands at 67.2%, and the Department of, Housing and Urban Development predicts that it may soon reach 67.5%., We moved from 55% in 1950 to where we are today because, during the, late 1960s and early 1970s, people in the home lending industry continued, to innovate. Because of the expansion of the secondary mortgage market, the mortgage banking industry became a significant generator of loans., Congress converted Fannie Mae to a private company with some government, connections in 1968. Two years later Freddie Mac received its federal charter., these actions, Washington decision makers combined the best of, public- and private-sector attributes to form an efficient group of, enterprises that advanced the goal of widespread homeownership. They are government-sponsored but privately capitalized and owned., Fannie, Freddie, mortgage bankers, community bankers, and the Home Loan, banks all worked with Wall Street, mutual fund managers, and investors to, create and develop the secondary market -- and the industry is successful., The lower interest rates, lower risk, and broader availability of these loans have significantly increased the volume of funds in the mortgage market and enhanced all types of home borrowing., When the Home Loan banks were established, people did not know whether, they would be able to get a mortgage. Today the homebuyer has a wide variety of mortgage products from which to choose. This consumer choice for the homebuyer is a given., With consumer choice goes an uninterrupted flow of mortgage credit and, continual economic growth, even during troubled times in the financial, cycle., Now as we work together to maintain our home lending system as the envy, of the world, will there be bumps in the road? Absolutely. Just as in earlier periods, special interests organize themselves to roll back government homeownership incentives. They whisper that Americans are housed too well and warn that we spend too much on housing., We must remember that those who fought to enact the Homestead Act did, so when there was a national Know-Nothing Party. That type of thinking continues today. They still don't know anything, but at least they do not have a party., The success and resiliency of the U.S. housing finance system did not, happen by chance. These qualities grew out of a clear national policy to promote competition, homeownership, and affordable rental housing. Generation after generation of fighting the public policy battle produced these gains., Citizens like us have carried the battle to public policymakers before., This is an election year, Ask those who want your vote to pledge their support for homeownership, and preserving the government-sponsored enterprises.
Published in American Banker (2000)
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published 1974
Volltext, Verlag
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published 1962
1957-1959, Volltext, Verlag
1960-1962, Volltext, Verlag
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published 1960
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published 1960
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published 1959
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published 1959
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