American Indian National Bank took issue with its much larger banking competitors as well as the federal government yesterday, charging that soaring interest rates will not help solve inflation.
"Enough," the bank said, in a response to bank prime interest rates that jumped to a record 13 percent on Wednesday and appear headed even higher. Most area institutions recently boosted their prime rates to 12 3/4 percent.
The small bank, establised here in 1973 and owned entirely by American Indians or native Americans from Alaska, announced it has no intention of increasing its prime lending rate, now at 12 1/2 percent. In fact, said president Conley Ricker, American Indian is going to cut its prime to 12 percent gradually "over the next few months." v. ith mid-year deposits of $17 million and a field office in Albuquerque, American Indian is the third-smallest of the District's 17 commercial banks. But size did not deter the bank's new chief executive from speaking out on what he described as practices that only encouraged inflation.
He proposed a radical but temporary solution to the problem -- temporary suspension of the Federal Reserve Board's independent status, so that overall government policy can be formulated.
"The Federal Reserve cannot effectively control inflation singlehandedly by engineering an escalation of the cost of money," Ricker said yesterday. Increases in interest rates only add to inflation "since many corporate and personal borrowers are arranging loans and commitments in expectation of further interest rate escalation," he said.
With regard to the inflation itself, the bank executive proposed coordinate action by the executive branch and Congress as well as the central bank.
He said representatives from the Fed, Treasury and Congress should develop a plan by which all three would outline their efforts to fight inflation. Congress would concentrate on government spending, the Treasury on tax and fiscal policy, and the Fed on monetary policy, he argued.
Ricker also took a maverick stance by proposing an 18-month period of income, wage and price ceilings, to be designed by a panel of White House appointees.