The Law and Structure of the International Financial System: Regulation in the United States, EEC, and Japan

By John H. Friedland | Go to book overview

2
Judicial and Administrative Expansion of Bank Powers and Current Legislative Proposals

In 1991, the Department of Treasury submitted proposals regarding the modernization of the US financial system. 1 The House of Representatives considered a number of bills which were responsive to the Department of Treasury's proposal. Collectively, these bills are referred to as the Financial Institution's Safety and Consumer Choice Act of 1991. 2 In addition to considering recapitalization of the Bank Insurance Fund (BIF), several measures were considered which ultimately failed to pass during the 102nd Congress: (1) nationwide banking and branching, 3 (2) reregulation of foreign banks, 4 (3) financial services modernization, which would have enabled the establishment of diversified Financial Services Holding Companies (FSHC), 5 allowing securities activities of subsidiaries of banks and commercial firm investment in financial service companies through FSHCs. The Senate likewise considered financial reform of the banking system in its bill entitled "Comprehensive Deposit Insurance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 1991." 6 This bill contained roughly analogous provisions enabling interstate banking and branching 7 and bank affiliation with securities firms, 8 but did not allow, unlike the House bill, commercial affiliation with banks. Congress did pass the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act which included provisions to ensure the safety and soundness of the banking system but did not expand banking powers. Part I of this chapter will consider the circumstances which led to the consensus that banking reform in the United States was necessary. Part II of this chapter will explain the degree to which the Glass- Steagall Act (GSA), which separates banking activities from most securities activities, has been eroded by judicial interpretation of the GSA. Part III--Regulation of Derivative Instruments--will consider the degree to which certain activities of banks are essentially securities-like activities and the extent to which it is impossible to separate securities-eligible from securities-ineligible activities. Part IV will con-

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