Interstate Banking Package Signed into Law by Clinton

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton signed legislation Thursday allowing banks to establish branches across state lines, a step he said will pump new energy into the banking industry and the U.S. economy.

Clinton, who signed the bill in the marble-clad Cash Room of the Treasury Department building, said the new banking law will allow banks to shed the shackles of 1920s laws that have limited their geographic scope.

He said the new law fits well into his administration's economic strategy by allowing business and consumers to increase their capacity to work together.

Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen said the new law will make the banking industry stronger and more efficient.

"This bill is a winner _ a winner for the economy _ and everybody knows it," Bentsen said.

Two chief executive officers of major banking corporations who addressed the audience of industry leaders and members of Congress called the new law "landmark legislation."

"It is an important event and I don't think it should be taken lightly," said Thomas Labrecque, chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank. "It is pro-competitive and will benefit users of financial services and promote safe and sound banking."

Richard Kovacevich, chief executive officer of Norwest Corp., a Minneapolis-based bank holding company, said the new law will allow banks "to serve customers where they are, wherever they want to be and do it faster and more efficiently."

"This is landmark legislation and one of the most positive pieces of banking legislation in our history," he said.

But opponents, including some small banks and consumer organizations, said the move will increase the rush to consolidation in the industry and take control of lending away from local bankers. …

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