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Reporter’s notebook: Fed meeting on unfair banking practices

I attended the Federal Reserve’s board meeting a couple of hours ago on changes to unfair banking practices.

A comprehensive report on the board’s decision is available online, but here are a few interesting tidbits about the meeting:

* This was one of the first open board meetings that allowed television cameras in the room. C-SPAN, ABC News, NBC News and another news outlet all took video footage of the event. It’s appropriate timing for the Fed to allow greater transparency of its inner workings because at this meeting they were considering asking credit card issuers and the banking industry to be more transparent with regulations they impose on credit card users and bank account holders. Way to reap what you sow, Fed!

* The room was bustling with conversation, until the four board members entered the room. When they walked through the heavy mahogany doors, the noisy press corps and staffers surrounding the board table fell silent. They remained that way, too, until Donald L. Kohn, the board’s vice chairman, spoke, beginning with, “Thank you for your statements today. It’s a very complex subject — almost as complex as the credit card statements we get.” They had a brief chuckle.

* This was my first time to cover an event inside the Fed building, but I was not alone. A reporter from the Washington Post, Nancy Trejos, sat next to me, and in conversation after the meeting adjourned she mentioned she’d only been covering credit card regulations for about two months. I got there two hours early, and had the opportunity to get a good seat (front and center, actually) and hear some of the murmurings of a handful of other reporters, who were also taken by the ornate boardroom as though they were also seeing it for the first time. It was quite a spectacle. Gold wallpaper, floor-to-ceiling tapestries along the windows and a fanciful chandelier hanging above the table were among the decorations in the room. It’s good to know the Fed spares no expense in housing the people who make important decisions about America’s expenses.

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  • Baron Schlegel

    I have been challenging the right of a bank to charge a fee to cash a check drawn on that bank. The Fed’s response was some bureaucratic bumbling. I then filed an FOIA request asking the Fed what legal definition of a check they used in their response to me. My request was acknowledged in early August, but I have yet to get an answer. I believe the Fed is standing on shaky ground in permitting this practice.

  • David Munns

    Friday’s Fed decision also granted a comment period on banking overdraft fee charges. To comment, visit: http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/ProposedRegs.cfm