Unshackling The Troubled Banks

A sweeping reform plan would give big lenders new competitive muscle but is sure to face a fierce fight in Congress

It was the most heartening news that America's troubled big banks have had in years. In a bid to strengthen the flagging industry, Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady last week urged Congress to sweep away laws that have limited bank activities since the Great Depression. Under his proposed reforms, banking companies could easily expand across state lines and become financial supermarkets that offer everything from stocks and bonds to life insurance. Treasury said the plan would also seek to shield taxpayers from any replay of the savings and loan fiasco. "If we expect to exert world economic leadership in the 21st century,"...

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