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What's In A Name?

Ever wonder how it is we got all those neat acronyms for banking laws, regulations and forms? You know, the ones like BPA, CRA, BSA, CTR, and SAR. Or the four letter ones like FCRA, TISA, TILA, RFPA, and EFAA. Five letter ones are even more complicated, like RESPA and DIMIA. And then there's the real biggies like FDICIA and FIRREA.*

This sort of thing can get to you. I've been kidding bankers for years about the miserable compliance officer who went out to lunch and ordered a BLTNT. The waitress looked puzzled, and said, "I know what a BLT is, Sir. But what is the NT?"

"Not Toasted, you stupid thing!" came the reply.
"Well, excuse me! But if I bring you a BLT not toasted, it will be all wet." He insisted. "I want a BLTNT on whole wheat!"

She brought him his sandwich as he requested, and later as she passed his table, she asked how his sandwich was.

"S-O-B", he replied.

"I beg your pardon!", she said.

"Soggy On Bottom", he answered.

She started away, stopped, and said four very meaningful letters to him. They stood for, "Should'a Had It Toasted!" (You figure it out!)

At any rate, the acronym bug has taken over our Congress. Seems one of the most important things they have to do in the new session is find a catchy name for the financial reform law that was enacted last year.

Senators and Representatives are holding debates, circulating ballots, and lobbying for names such as the GLB. The G for Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm; the L for House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, and the B for House Commerce Chairman Thomas Bliley.

If not GLB, how about the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act? Or is that worse than the Glass-Steagall Act it repealed? And Representative Bliley might not like it if it got shortened with use to the Gramm-Leach Act. That's what happened with the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Law fifteen years ago. It's still known as the Gramm-Rudman Act.

One name suggested, following the same line of thinking was "Glubba", which one lawmaker said gives a sense of going underwater - sinking - which is the way he felt about the bill! "Greachley" is also a possibility. As is "FinMod" for Financial Modernization. Over 900 hats with the title of "Fin Mod Squad" have been distributed to people who worked on the legislation. "FinMod" is also favored by the Treasury Department.

We've long been referring to the bill as HR10, indicating, of course, that it is the House of Representatives bill. The Senate doesn't like that. They prefer S900, their own name.

Just think. These long debates and discussions are by the folks that drafted the law that will govern us into the next 100 years. The same people that will continue to pass legislation to direct the banking industry.

Scary, isn't it?

We tend to agree with one industry expert who, in the middle of one of the debates over the name of the bill said, "For those of us thinking about this, it clearly means we need to get a life."

*Bank Protection Act; Community Reinvestment Act; Bank Secrecy Act; Currency Transaction Report; Suspicious Activity Report; Fair Credit Reporting Act; Truth In Savings Act; Truth in Lending Act; Right to Financial Privacy Act; Expedited Funds Availability Act; Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act; Depository Institutions Management Interlocks Act; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 and Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989.

Copyright © 2000 Bankers' Hotline. Originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1/00

First published on 01/01/2000

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