''It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of,'' says Barbara
Danziger, a freelance book proofreader in Livingston, N.J. ''When
you give a present, you like to give it. I think more people are
going to start giving checks.'' The source of her annoyance: a change
in the U.S. Savings Bond program. In 39 states, you can no longer go
into a bank or S&L and walk out with a bond inscribed to, say, your
nephew's new baby. Instead, you now get a flimsy, check-size gift
certificate (above) to present to your nephew. A Federal Reserve Bank
will mail the actual bond -- now paying 6.75% -- to you or the gift
recipient in three weeks.
What gives? The U.S. Treasury Department has been phasing in the
certificates since 1989. The remaining 11 states will get them by
early 1993. Bankers persuaded the Treasury that the 50-year-old
system of typing up bonds at their branches was too time consuming.
Moreover, the federal government now saves about $10 million
annually, mostly through a paperwork reduction. Our advice: if you
want to give a savings bond, place your order early.