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WASHINGTON-The third in a series of hearings on federal deposit insurance reform was held Wednesday, October 17. It was the first such hearing for newly installed Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Donald Powell. FDIC’s reform efforts include different premium structuring to avoid the `free loader’ issue; changing methods to keep the required reserve level at 1.25% and avoiding incurring a 23 basis point premium for members; creating a rebate system for banks similar to the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund; and raising the insurance coverage cap. Raising the coverage level aroused great controversy among banking officials, including Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Phil Gramm (R-Texas). However, credit union lobbyists have suggested that Powell may change the proposal to only double insurance coverage of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). According to a report in the American Banker, the FDIC believes that doubling the deposit insurance coverage for IRAs would cover an additional $16 billion of these accounts in aggregate. IRAs account for $2.6 trillion nationwide of which approximately $60 billion is not covered under the $100,000 deposit insurance coverage limit. CUNA and NAFCU have both said they support the move and will seek parity for credit unions if the bankers are successful. Others scheduled to testify include Nolan North, chairman of the Association of Financial Professionals Financial Markets Task Force; Richard S. Carnell, Fordham University School of Law associate professor; and Kenneth H. Thomas, finance lecturer for The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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