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BDARD DF G D V E R N D R S
OF THE

FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM

Date October 2 1 > 1 9 5 7

Office Correspondence
To

Chairman Eccles

From_

Subject:

Ronald Ransom
H B F I D | N T I A L
Under date of October 11th, I circulated to the Members of the
Board a confidential memorandum on the Brookings1 report on Government
Reorganization as it related to the Federal banking agencies.
After doing so, I found that Mr, Wingfield had prepared an
independent memorandum on the same subject, which came to me from Mr.
Wyatt under date of October 18th* This developed some aspects of the
matter not covered in my previous memorandum. I am handing you herewith a
copy of Mr. Wingfieldfs memorandum and Mr. Wyattfs accompanying memorandum to me.
Before you left for your vacation, you requested that I consider
some aspects of the problem involved in the proposed Government reorganization, and that I give you some data on this subject. I am attaching copy
of a memorandum prepared by Mr. Dreibelbis at my request. I asked that
he direct his memorandum towards certain specific matters that I felt
should be considered in connection with the reorganization problem and
that his memorandum present arguments in support of conclusions on certain
matters that I think we will have to consider before any of us can reach
a final decision on these questions.
I am also attaching a memorandum I have prepared, which I would
be willing to use as a basis for a discussion of the problem should I
be asked to discuss it by any congressional committee or anyone charged
with responsibility for carrying throi^gh any reorganization that may be
authorized by congressional action. This memorandum contains some
matters not entirely relevant to the subject. This is due to the fact
that I am not able to reach any conclusions as to what should be done
about the governmental reorganization of Federal bank supervisory agencies
until I am able to answer to my own satisfaction questions that I think
inevitably arise as soon as the problem of reorganization has been settled.
Frankly, I have prepared this memorandum with the view of suggesting some
thoughts of mine to you should you decide at a later date to make any
public statement on the subject. I did not anticipate thi you and I
would be in complete agreement on all of the points involved, but I think
this will suggest some of the more important points for your consideration
and for further discussion between us.
In connection with this entire problem, there will be found in
the reports made in connection with the Bank Suspension Study material
of real value in reaching answers to the questions involved, not only in
connection with the reorganization in question but with the broader problem
that lies beyond it,-namely, that of creating a sound banking system. I
also have in my file material relating to the whole subject, which may be of
ter on.




BY BE. RANSOM

There are numerous problems that need to be solved if
our commercial banks are to be made strong enough to stand
the contracting and expanding forces of our fluctuating economic system. # The more immediately pressing of these problems
are divisible into two groups:
First, those resulting from the conflicting
and overlapping authorities and responsibilities
through which the Federal Government now exercises
its supervisory powers.
Second, those resulting from the lack of a
unified commercial banking system.
In the second of these general problems are involved numerous questions so vitally concerning the welfare of all customers
of American banks that its solution is of fundamental national importance. Banking should be a process having continuity of procedure
and development, little if at all subject to capricious change,
and as free as possible fro>n failure, whether resulting from bad
management, the impact of adverse economic conditions, or the
vagaries of political pressure and experimentation.

Sound capi-

talization, adequate supervision, uniformity of call reports, access to the discounting and loan facilities of a Federal banking
system, an examination policy responsive to the economic needs of
the country:

these are some of the obvious reasons why all com-

mercial and agricultural interests are alike concerned in the
second problem set forth. But the right approach to the latter




-2~
problem—banking unification—can hardly be found, I believe, until the confusion inherent in the first—disjointed agencies of
Federal supervision—has itself been solved.
Our dual system of State and Federal banking presents some
theoretical difficulties to students of banking and a good many
practical administrative difficulties to bank supervisory authorities. The latter can be resolved and this traditional American
plan, which permits State and Federal chartering and supervision,
can, in my opinion, be continued with most of its weaknesses eliminated, if the Federal powers are exercised through a single Federal agency.

A single Federal agency would in great measure al-

most automatically reduce the conflicting and duplicated supervision and the multiplicity of reports that banks, with some justice, now find so annoying; and, more importantly, a single Federal
agency would facilitate the development of a straightforward, consistent Federal policy, would clarify the channels of responsibility, and, if wisely directed., *ould encourage the development of
a real mutuality of cooperation between the Federal Authority and
the States, so that, as I say, there could be a strengthened banking structure, s&th many of the advantages of unification but
without too violent en infringement of the sovereignty end the
dignity of the States in the banking field. Such banking opposition
to thisraoveas has heretofore existed has resulted from three causes:




~3~
first, the prohibition against exchange charges by member banks
of the Federal Reserve System; second, a vague fear of a toogreat concentration of banking control in the national Government;
and, third, allied with the second, the inability of many State
banks to meet the requirements of Federal law regarding capital.
Exchange (in the sense of a fee for paying as distinguished
from collecting an item) is a service charge, difficult to Justify
when examined in the light of reason. Nevertheless, it furnishes
the income that enables numerous small banks in certain rural
sections to exist.

They serve their communities. Eliminate them

and the national Government may find strong pressure for postal
savings departments to engage in active banking.

It is not a

conclusive or satisfactory answer to suggest the extension of
branch banking.

The States have in that respect rights on which

they will insist, and it must also be borne in mind that there is
no assurance that a branch bonk will prompQy fill each void created
by the closing of a small rural bank that had ceased operations because deprived of an important revenue.
No measure should be adopted that will extend this service
charge into sections where banks have already so developed their
operations as not to need it. The answer should hv found by
recognizing

that its use is prevalent in sections of low per capita

income and wealth and by the establishment of a formula having a




-4relation to such economic conditions, as well as to the size
of banks and their communities.

In this way, exchange can be

quarantined to the sections already affected, relying on the
economic development of these sections and better management in
their banks gradually to eliminate its use.

Should this be done,

the first cause of banking opposition would be removed.
The banking fear of concentrating too much power over
banking in the Federal Government overlooks the historic and constitutional aspects of the problem.

To be realistic about it,

it would be wiser to consider how the power already vested can
best be administered and how the banking system as a whole can
be most benefited

by the use of all the facilities already avail-

able to the Federal Government under existing laws. Concentrating these facilities in some one Federal agency, open on proper
terms to all banks, need not cause alarnj quite otherwise, if such
an agency were organized in accordance with our Federal theory : f
>
government, which endeavors to preserve t^ the diverse localities
of the national measure of local responsibility and local decision.
It is my conviction that the Federal Reserve Syst&m is
adapted, fcy reason of its twelve banks, to the American Federal
theory I have mentioned, so that non-policy affairs can be left
to regional determination and a sense of local self-reliance and
participation maintained and increased.




The System is so organized

-5that it can, through its Board of Governors, exercise statutory
control over credit and money in the national interest, and it
should be so organized as to decentralize, through its twelve
banks and twenty-five branches and agencies, those administrative matters relating to member bank operations that should riot
m

be centralized in a Washington board•

Member banks should have

as close contact as possible with administrative authority.
Because member bsnks now own all the stock of the Federal
Reserve banks, it will be* asked if it is in the public interest
that these bank-owned central banks should have greater administrative authority delegated to them. Banks could well afford to
give up this stock ownership to obtain unification of Federal
supervisory authority and unification of the entire banking system.
If the member banks are not to own this stock, there are at least
three other alternatives: first, ownership by the public; second,
Treasury ownership; and, third, the System can be operated without
stock ownership by the banks, the public, or the Treasury.
Ownership by the public would involve limiting the amount of
stock any one individual could acquire and appropriate qualifications with respect to the proprietorship rights of shareholders*
Provision should also be made for pro rata distribution among the
twelve Federal Reserve districts*

Treasury ownership would be

argued against on the ground of changing national administrations,
and it would doubtless also deprive the System of the independence




-6of status and opinion that would make its views of complementary value in any national situation.

Treasury ownership,

moreover, is open to the important objection that, to obtain
complete unification of our dual banking system under unified
Federal supervision, it will be necessary to remove all traces
of suspicion that the plan is one to subject the State banking
systems to the changing policies of national administration? or
to make the State banks an engine of national political expediency.

It is well to state with frankness, of course, that

no central banking system should be or can be wholly independent
of or indifferent to the national policy of the administration
that has been placed in power by popular vote, but a well
balanced cooperation between the Treasury and the central banking authority can best be achieved if the latter has such independence of decision and action as will cause its views to be
respected.
She third chief point that I listed as responsible for banking opposition to the unification of Federal agencies was the
capital requirement feature of Federal banking law. The fear of
Federal authority concentrated in a single Federal agency rests,
in part at least, on the thought that such an agency would endeavor
by statute or arbitraiy regulation to force into the Federal Reserve
System banks that do not, and in many instances cannot, meet the
capital requirements of membership.




Since it seems to me that a

-7growth toward banking unification and the close cooperation between the Federal authority and the States is of paramount importance, it is also my belief that to attain the possibility
of a development in this direction, with Federal powers brought
together under a single agency, we could afford to make clear
that no existing bonk would be excluded from the System on the
basis of capital requirements it cannot meet*
There are no less than five agencies of the Federal Government now vested with authority for banking supervision. The
Treasuiy, beyond its supervisory powers, possesses additional
powers that are either essentially of a central banking character or have an inevitable impact on the functioning of a national
central banking institution*

The Treasury powers may be listed

as follows:




1.

Supervisory authority connected with preferred
stock purchases by the R.F.C,

2*

Supervisory authority in the licensing of banks
and a certain influence in the Comptroller's
office by means of the right to approve the
appointment of examiners and to appoint deputy
comptrollers.

5. Monetary powers involved in the purchase of gold
and silver. In connection with this point should
be remembered the Treasury1s power to sterilize or
desterilize gold, to operate the stabilization
fund, and by means of it, plus the Presidential
power to vary the price of gold, to control the
exchange value of the dollar, and to establish
exchange.

7-A
4*

Monetary power to issiie, under certain contingencies, $3,000,000,000 of greenbacks.

5. Monetary power to influence banking reserves
by shifting cash balances from Reserve banks
to member banks and vice versa.
6.

Limited monetary powers connected with the
operation of Treasury special funds*

It seems clear that the supervisory authority of the Treasury
relating to banking should be transferred to a sipgle Federal agency
exclusively charged with the Federal control of money and banking*
Most of the other Treasury powers, however, even though having a fundamental relation to central banking operations, arc so integral with
the ordinary conduct of Government business and so concerned with the
fiscal policy and international relations of whatever administration
is in office that it is hard to foresee either the willingness or the
propriety of their abandonment by the Treasury. About the only point
that might be considered in this connection, I believe, is to explore
the possibility that certain powers of the Treasury—for instance,
those relating to exchange and gold purchase—should be exercised
jointly or in consultation with the central banking authority; but
doubtless the present close cooperation between the Board of Governors and the Treasury regarding the use of those Treasury powers
having a direct impact on the monetary situation can normally be
expected to continue, and, in any event, the existing close consultation between the Board and the Treasury means that the monetary powers of the latter are not a present issue.




-8~

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation is authorized by
law to make loans and to supply capital to banks by the purchase of either preferred stock or capital debentures. It has
no supervisory powers specified by law but, as an incident to
its proprietary interest or otherwise as a matter of contract,
it has become possessed of supervisory powers over many banks.
Collectively, but not necessarily in all cases, these powers
have included, in addition to its rights as a shareholder or
debenture holder under the bank's articles of association, the
right to examine, the right to control salaries, the right to
control management, and other related rights. The emergency
powers of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation were created
to meet depression conditions. If there were a single Federal
agency in the field of bank operations, considerable simplification could doubtless be achieved by charging such an agency
with the banking responsibilities that have heretofore been en-




trusted to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
The three other Federal agencies having responsibility for

-9—

bank supervision and examination, together with certain other
powers in relation to monetary nnd fiscal controls and insurance
of deposits, are the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of
Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation*

The principal duties they now perform are

as follows:
1.

The office of the Comptroller of the Currency

was

created in 1864 for the purpose of executing "all laws passed by
Congress relating to the issue and regulation of a national currency secured by United States bonds*" At the time of the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, the Comptroller, in addition to
the foregoing was charged with the "execution of all laws passed
by Congress relating to the issue and regulation* * *, under the
general supervision of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, of all Federal Reserve notes," and so forth*

In the

implementation of these purposes, Congress has from time to tine
vested the Comptroller of the Currency with certain bank supervisory powers*
On June 50, 1957 there were 5,299 national banking associations with total resources of $50,557,071,000 and total
deposits of $26,765,915,000 being supervised by the Office of
the Comptroller of the Currency. All of these were member banks
except six in Alaska, Hawaii and Virgin Islands with total assets
of $57,046,000 and total deposits of $50,557,000*




-10The powers and duties of the Comptroller of the Currency are as follows:
(1) Subject to capital and other requirements of
law, the Comptroller charters national banking associations
in accordance with standards fixed by him in his judgment.
(2) He is directed to examine banks under his supervision twice yearly, and "oftener if considered necessary."
(3) Such banks must make not less than three reports
of condition yearly to the Comptroller in form prescribed by
him, which must be published in a local newspaper. In addition, he may call for special reports. Within 10 days after
declaring a dividend, a national bank must report the amount
to him, together with the amount of net earnings in excess of
each dividend.

If a national bonk has an "affiliate" or a

"holding company affiliate", it must furnish and publish reports
of such organizations in accordance with the applicable statutes
and the Comptroller is authorized to call for additional reports.
If it maintains a foreign branch, the Comptroller may require
it to furnish information concerning the condition of the branch.
(4) His approval must be secured before a national
banking association may reduce its capital.
(5) His approval is required for the consolidation
of national banks and, for certain purposes, is required for
the consolidation of a State bank with a national bank.




-life) Subject to the requirements of law, he must
approve the establishment of branches of national banking
associations, except the establishment of foreign branches.
(7) Pursuant to section 5136 of the U.S.R.S. he
may further define the term "investment securities11 and, subject
to the limitations of the statute, may regulate the purchase of
investment

securities by national banks for their own account.

(Under paragraph 19 of section 9 of the Federal Reserve Act,
State member banks are subject to the same limitations•>
(8) Under the circumstances set out in section 50 of
the Banking Act of 1933 he may institute proceedings for the
removal from office of an officer or director of a national bank
by certifying the facts to the Board of Governors of the Federal
Reserve System.
(9) Under certain statutory grounds he may institute
suits to forfeit the charters of the bank.
(10) He may appoint a conservator "whenever he shall
deem it necessary in order to conserve the assets of any bank
for the benefit of the depositors and other creditors thereof."
(11) He may appoint a receiver upon several statutory
grounds, but the one most generally resorted to is insolvency.
(12) He is charged with the supervision of the liquidation of banks for which he has appointed a receiver. Nevertheless, when he shall have closed a bank on account of its inability




-12-

to meet the demands of its depositors, he must appoint as
receiver the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which in
turn, under his supervision, liquidates the affairs of the
insolvent bank. However, he is authorized to waive and relieve the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from complying
with any regulation with respect to receivership, where, in
his discretion, such action is deemed advisable to simplify
administration•
2. On June SO, 1957 there were 6,357 member banks of
the Federal Reserve System with total resources of $47,468,61S,000
and total deposits of $41,490,046,000, of itfiich 1,064 were member
State banks with total resources of $17,188,588,000 and total
aggregate deposits of $14,774,490,000.
In the field of credit and monetary control the more
important powers of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
System are to change the reserves required to be maintained against
deposits by member banks, national as well as State; to review
and determine discount rates established and charged by the Federal
Reserve banks; to regulate the amount of credit that may be initially extended and subsequently maintained on any security (with
certain exceptions) registered on a national securities exchange;
and to exercise certain other powers designed to enable the Board
to prevent an undue diversion of funds into speculative operations•




-15-

In addition, each member of the Board of Governors is also a
member of the Federal Open Market Committee which directs and
regulates open market operations of the Federal Reserve banks*
The Board is charged with the exercise of general
supervision over the Federal Reserve banks.

In aid of the per-

formance of this duty it is authorized to make examinations of
such banks; to require statements and reports from them; to
require the establishment or discontinuance of branches; to
supervise the issue and retirement of Federal Reserve notes;
and to exercise special supervision over all relationships and
transactions of the Federal Reserve banks with, foreign banks
or bankers.
The Board is also possessed of certain powers of supervision over member banks. A catalogue of these powers and
duties is as follows:
(1) National banking associations chartered by the
Comptroller of the Currency, automatically become member banks
of the System, but State banks are admitted by the Board to
membership subject to certain requirements of law and in accordance with standards fixed by the Board in the exercise of its
judgment.
(2) The Board, in its discretion, may cause a national
bank to be examined, and a reserve bank, with the approval of a
Federal Reserve Agent or the Board, may provide for a special
examination of such a bank.




In the case of State member banksf

-14either the Board of Governors or a Reserve bank may cause an
examination to be made, and the Board may make "inspections"
of any bank, member or nonmember, in connection with its functions under the Securities Exchange Act.
(3) State member banks must make reports of condition
to the Reserve banks on dates fixed and in form prescribed by
the Board of Governors at least three times yearly and such reports must be published as required by the Board*
port to the Reserve banks payments of dividends.

They must reIf a State

member bank has an "affiliate" or a "holding company affiliate",
it must furnish and publish reports in accordance with the applicable statutes, and the Board is authorized to call for additional
reports.

If it has invested in the capital of a foreign bank,

the Board of Governors may require it to furnish information concerning the condition of such corporation.
(4) Notwithstanding the fact that national banks are
chartered by the Comptroller of the Currency, they may exercise
trust powers only when permission has been granted by the Board,
and the regulation of the exercise of such power is vested in the
Board.

However, there is no express provision of law directing

the Board to supervise the exercise of trust powers by State member
banks, but it may do so idien it has prescribed appropriate conditions of membership.




-15(5) The Board must approve the establishment of a
foreign branch of a national bank and it must approve, except
as to intra-city branches, the establishment of branches by State
member banks.
(6) The Board, with respect to member banks, may
broaden the limitation of the aggregate amount of acceptances
that a bank may accept*
(7) To prohibit the payment of interest on demand
deposits} to limit the interest payable on time and savings deposits, and to regulate the payment of time deposits before maturity, the Board is authorized, with respect to member banks, both
national and State, to define certain terms, to determine what
should be deemed to be a payment of interest, to prescribe such
rules and regulations as it may deem necessary to effectuate the
purposes of the law and prevent evasions thereof, and to limit
the rate of interest which may be paid by such banks on time and
savings deposits.
(8) Under section 30 of the Banking Act of 1933 the
Board is vested with the power of removing for cause officers
and directors of member banks.

In the case of national banks

the proceeding is initiated by the filing by the Comptroller of
a certificate of the facts warranting removal, and in the case
of State member banks it is initiated by the filing of a similar
certificate by the Federal Reserve Agent*




-16-

(9) Enforcement of compliance with the Clayton Act
prohibiting, with certain exceptions, any officer or employee
of a member bank, national or State, from serving another bank
is delegated to the Board.
(10) The Board is authorized in limited classes of
cases to make, by general regulation, exceptions with respect
to the statutory prohibition against directors, officers, or employees of a security company serving a member bank.
(11) The effectuation by regulation of the statutory
prohibition against executive officers, with certain exceptions,
becoming indebted to their banks and against member banks making loans to their executive officers is delegated to the Board.
(12) In the case of a sale of any security or property
to a member bank by a director or by a firm of which any director
is a member, the Board may, by regulation, require full disclosure
of the commissions when the director or firm sells for others and
of the profits i t e the sale is made for the director or firm.
rin
(13) The affiliation of a member bank with a security
company is forbidden by law.

To enforce the prohibition a penalty

of $1,000 a day may be assessed by the Board and collected by the
proper Federal Reserve bank.

In addition, if the affiliation con-

tinues for six months the bankfs charter may be forfeited in a
suit brought by the Comptroller of the Currency in his own name




-17under the direction of the Board of Governors if it is a national
bank and if it is a State member bank its membership may be terminated.
(14) To accomplish the purposes of the law and to regulate the relationship with so-called "holding company affiliates11, the power to make certain determinations and the granting of voting permits to member banks is vested in the Board.
(15)

The Board, with respect to all banks, has been

empowered to regulate the extension and maintenance of credit
for the purpose of purchasing or carrying securities registered
on a national securities exchange.
(16) The Board is authorized, after hearing, to forfeit the membership of a State member bank at any time it appears that such member bank has failed to comply with the provisions of certain statutes, principally section 9 of the Federal
Reserve Act, or the regulations of the Board of Governors.
3. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was organized
under authority of the Banking Act of 19S5. Of its capital,
#150,000,000 was subscribed by the Treasury of the United States
and $139,299,566.99 by the Federal Reserve banks, each Federal
Reserve bank subscribing to an amount of stock equal to 1/2 of
its surplus on January 1, 1933.
On June 30, 1937 there were 15,580 operating banks in
the United States (including possessions) of which the deposits




-18in 13,943 were insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Of the latter number 7,586 were nonmember banks

with total resources of $8,561,627,000 and total deposits of
$7,315,643,000,
Aside from its chief function of insuring the deposits
of banks, the Corporation is authorized to act as receiver for
insured banks that fail. In the case of national banks the
Comptroller must appoint the Corporation receiver, as has already been pointed out, and in the case of State banks the Corporation must accept appointment as receiver if such appointment
is tendered by the authority having supervision over such banks
and is authorized by State law.
The Act provides that if the Corporation finds that
it is advisable, and in the interest of the depositors of the
closed bank or the public, it shall organize a new national bank
to assume the insured deposits of a closed bank. Further, until
July 1, 1938, it may make loans secured by assets of an open or
closed insured bank, or may purchase such assets, or may guarantee
any other insured bank against loss by the reason of its assuming
the liabilities of another.open or closed insured bank, whenever,
in the judgment of the board of directors of the Corporation, such
action will reduce the risk or avert threatened loss to the Corporation and facilitate a merger or consolidation of an insured bank




0L9-

with another insured bank.
Insured banks are assessed at the rate of l/l2th of
1 per cent per annum upon an assessment base figured on average
deposits of the insured bank, arrived at in accordance with the
provisions of the statute and regulations of the Corporation*
The money of the Corporation not otherwise employed may be invested in Government obligations, except that for temporary
periods its funds may be deposited in any Federal Reserve bank
or with the Treasurer of the United States.
The Act also provides that the Secretary of the Treasury
may designate the Corporation as a depositary of public moneys,
except receipts from customs, under such regulations as the
Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe and may also employ it
as a financial agent of the Government.

In such cases it is

provided that the Corporation shall perform all such reasonable
duties as a depositary of public moneys and as a financial agent
of the Government as may be required of it.
The Corporation' is also possessed of certain powers of
supervision over insured banks. A catalogue of these powers and
duties is as follows:
(1) National banks chartered by the Comptroller of the
Currency and State banks admitted to membership in the Federal
Reserve System automatically become entitled to the benefits of
insurance. Nonmember banks are admitted to the benefits of in-




-20-

surance by the Corporation upon considerations based upon
standards fixed in the Act, except that after July 1, 1942
no State bank, with certain limited exceptions, which shall,




during the calendar year 1941 or any succeeding calendar year,
have had an average deposit of $1,000,000 or more may be an
insured bank or continue to have any part of its deposits insured after July 1, 1942 unless it shall have become a member
of the Federal Reserve System* *
(2) The corporation may examine a national bank with
the written consent of the Comptroller of the Currency; it
may examine a State member bank with the written consent of the
Board of Governors; and it may examine a nonmember insured bank
at will.
(3) Each insured bank whether member or nonmember must,
on July 15th and January 15th of each year, file with the corporation certified statements showing its "assessment base." In
addition to the report showing the "assessment base", insured nonmember banks must make and publish such reports as the Corporation
may require in such form and at such time as it may prescribe.
(4) The written consent of the Corporation is required
for the reduction or retirement of common or preferred stock or
capital notes or debentures of insured nonmember banks, except
banks situated in the District of Columbia.
(5) The written consent of the Corporation is required

-21-

for any insured bank to consolidate with a non-insured bank,
assume liability for a non-insured bank!s deposits, or transfer assets to a non-insured bank in return for assumption of
deposits.
(6) The consent of the Corporation is required for
an insured nonmember bank to establish "any new branch11 or to
move any branch.
(7) In the case of nonmember insured banks, the
Corporation is directed to prohibit by regulation the payment
of interest on demand deposits and is authorized to define
"demand depositee

It is directed to make such exceptions

from the prohibitions as are permitted to member banks by the
Federal Reserve Act and the regulations of the Board of Governors.
It is also directed to limit the rate of interest on time and
savings deposits; to prohibit payment of time deposits before
maturity, except under regulations by it; to prohibit the waiving of requirement of notice before payment of savings deposits
except as to all savings deposits having the same requirement;
and to define what constitutes time and savings deposits in an
insured nonmember bank.
(8) It may require any insured bank to insure against
burglary, defalcation and other insurable losses.
(9) To terminate the insurance of a national bank the
Corporation must notify the Comptroller of the bank's violation




-22-

of law or continued unsound practices, and, if the Comptroller
does not obtain correction in 120 days, the Corporation may
hold a hearing and terminate the bank's insured status, in
which event the Comptroller must appoint a Receiver.

In the

case of State member banks, the Corporation must notify the
Board of Governors, and, if the Board does not obtain correction
in 120 days, the Corporation may hold a hearing and terminate
the bank's insured status, in which event the Board must terminate
the membership of the subject bank in the Federal Reserve System.

In the case of nonmember insured banks the Corporation

must notify the appropriate State authority, and, if such authority does not obtain correction in 120 days, the Corporation
may hold a hearing and terminate the bank's insured status.

The necessity for reorganization of the Federal banking
agencies is obvious. It is a condition precedent to any serious
effort to find a solution for the banking problems not solved by
the Federal banking legislation of 19S3 and 1935. It is necessary in order to consolidate the gains made by that legislation
towards the establishment of a banking system that will adequately serve the nation.

The important question is not which Federal

agency will be used for this purpose but to create a governmental
will to use one agency. Once that purpose has been established,
the details should be worked out by all of the agencies pooling




~£3~

their knowledge of the complex problems involved, and in
this way affording the Congress and the Administration real
aid in finding the best solution.
It would be a forward step if one of the pending reorganization bills should be enacted and the President authorized to
proceed with an administrative reorganization of the banking
agencies. In that event, the following questions would require
answers:
1.

Can Federal banking supervision be consolidated
in one agency?

2.

Can any one of the existing agencies be used
for this purpose, or will it be necessaiy to
create a new agency?

5.

If the answer to the first part of the second
question is in the affirmative, then which one
of these agencies can be best used?

There are related and collateral questions that will require
answers as these three primary questions are considered. The
four most Important are:




1.

Can the examining and supervising function
be separated from the function of monetary and
credit control?

2. Which existing agency is best equipped to receive the transfer of authorities now vested in
other agencies?
3. Does continuity of operation of any existing
authority make its transfer to another agency
difficult?
4. Recognizing our dual banking system, is any
existing Federal agency better qualified than
the other Federal agencies to be used as a means
to achieve a unification of the entire banking
system of the nation?




-24In considering answers to these questions, certain conditions may be taken as established.

A sound banking system

is necessary for the maintenance of a competitive capitalistic
economy.

As a consequence of the banking holiday, it is reason-

able to assume that banks may again close under sufficient
pressure, this time more readily than they did before by reason
of the fact that they have been through th£ experience once, but
such a second closing would be disastrous and might well result
in banking becoming a governmental function.
The dual banking system will continue. Exchange rill be
charged by banks in some States. There will be well organized
and politically strong opposition to extension of branch banking.
Examination not related to national credit policies will inevitably be lax on the upswing and tight on the downswing. Not having
a "clean sheet of paper" upon which to attempt the difficult task
of writing the specifications for a theoretically ideal system
of banking, it will be well to consider the practical aspect of
certain existing conditions that must be borne in mind in appraising the problem of improving the present organization of
banking.
Member bank ownership causes in the public mind a failure
to perceive that the Federal Reserve System is in fact publicly
controlled, and member bank ownership, which results in this
misconception, does not lend any adequate compensation in the way

-25of efficiency in management.

Without such ownership, desirable

decentralization of administration to the Federal Reserve banks
and branches would be possible*

With such decentralization,

progress could be made towards unification of the whole banking
system*

Existing lack of understanding of the public-function

aspect of the System as c whole could be better overcome with
such decentralization and the establishment of each of the twelve
banks and their branches as important institutions in their districts. The System should be kept in the path of regional development under Federal policy-making control, if it is to serve as
a means of achieving unification. The national banks, if their
cooperation is to be obtained in creating a unified system of
banking, will need definite assurance that under any plan of
reorganization they will have full protection of their rights.
There is at present an inevitable "competition in laxity"
in bank supervision.

It is caused in no small part by the lack

of one Federal agency charged with exclusive authority and capable in turn of cooperating with the banking departments of the
forty-eight states. A coordination of the lmhole banking system
can be obtained only through cooperation with State authorities.
Technical objections to admitting banks to membership in the
System are less important in the long-range view than the results
that should be obtained in the course of tine through unification.







IMPROVEMENT OF FEDERAL SUPERVISION OF BANKS
Page
Existing Machinery and its Operation

»•

1

Improvement by Elimination of Divided
Responsibility and Consolidation of Functions • • • 2 1
Consolidation of Functions in the Board
of Governors of the Federal Reserve Sjjrstem

27

Improvement of Federal Supervision of Banks
'Phis argument is addressed to the inadequacy and inefficiency
of existing Federal supervision of banks, the room or necessity for
improvement therein, and the means whereby such improvement can be
effected*
Before suggesting a remedy, it would appear necessary to determine whether there is a need for one* Accordingly, it may be well
first to take stock of the existing machinery not only with respect to
how it is being presently operated but as well with respect to its potentialities*
chinery?

Thus, it is proper to inquire: What is the present ma-

How many engineers are there?

Within what limits is it pos-

sible for them to operate their respective machines at different speeds
or even in different directions?

Then, having determined the potential-

ities of the existing machinery, it is proper to inquire: How is existing machinery being operated?
Existing Machinery and its Operation
There are in this country approximately 15,000 commercial
banks, of which approximately 5,300 are national banks, 1,000 are State
member banks of the Federal Reserve System, 7,500 are nonmember banks
of the Federal Reserve System, the deposits of which have been insured
by the F.D*I*C* and 1,200 arc nonmember uninsured banks*
Federal supervision in some matters extends to all banks and
under the existing Federal statutes is vested to some extent in the
Secretary of the Treasury and the R*F.C*, but mainly it is vested in
the Comptroller of the Currency, the F*D.I.C. and the Board of Governors
of the Federal Reserve Sjystem. The supervisory powers of the Secretary




-2of the Treasury flow from the provisions of the Emergency Banking Act
and regulations thereunder whereby the Secretary licenses national and
member State banks, and from the Secretory1s discretionary powers in
connection with requests for the purchase by the R.F.C. of preferred
stock or capital debentures in banks* Those of the R.F.C. result from
contract and are largely incident to its proprietary interest in the
brinks from vhich it has purchased preferred stock or capital debentures*
The exercise of supervision by the three principal agencies is
apt to be thought of as being by the Comptroller of the Currency with
respect to national banks, by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System with respect to State member banks and by the F.D.I.C.
with respect to nonmember insured banks, Speaking in broad generalities,
this may be said to be the case, but, even assuming that such a division
of responsibility would be desirable, subsequent discussion vdll demonstrate that the line of demarcation within which each of these agencies
operates is by no means so well defined or so fixed as to accomplish
that result. Indeed, the very contrary , s true and it may well be
i
doubted if it could be otherwise.
The machinery by which Federal supervision is attempted is that
provided by Congress by the enactment of legislation.

In taking stock

of that machinery, it is proper, therefore, remembering that in the case
of State banks Federal, supervision is superimposed on that already being
exercised by the State, to inquire into the broad purposes of supervision for which each of the agencies was created rjnd the powers delegated
to each such agency to accomplish that result.




-3The office of the Comptroller of the Currency, when created,
was "charged with the execution of all laws passed by Congress relating to the issue and regulation of a national currency secured by
United States bonds", and in addition, after the passage of the Federal.
Reserve Act, "with the execution of all laws passed by Congress relating to the issue and regulation * * *, under the general supervision
of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, of all Federal
Reserve notes, etc.". It is in pursuance of this general mandate that
the Comptroller is concerned with the safety and sound operation of
national banks and has been charged with the various supervisory duties
which he now exercises.
At the same time, one of the avowed purposes of the Federal
Reserve Act was "to establish a more effective supervision of banking
in the United States", and the F.D.I.C. was created as part of an act
which, among other things, was "to provide for the safer and more
effective use of the assets of banks".
Enumerating some of the powers and thereby taking stock of the
existing machinery, it may be noted that:
1. Having once chartered the bank or having once admitted it
into membership in the Federal Reserve System and to the benefits of
insurance by the F.D.I.C, the most drastic measures available to each
agency are as follows: The Comptroller of the Curroncy with respect to
national banks may institute suits to forfeit the charter *£ a bank;
may appoint a conservator; and, may appoint a receiver. The Board of
Governors of the Federal Reserve System may eatpel a State member bank




-4from the System and the F.D.I.C* may institute proceedings for termination of the insured status of a bank.
Suits by the Comptroller of the Currency for the forfeiture
of the charter of a national banking association have been extremely
rare and must be predicated on stated violations of law.

He may

appoint a conservator "whenever he shall deem it necessary in order
to conserve the assets of any bank for the benefit of the depositors
and of the creditors thereofff and there are many statutory grounds for
the appointment of a receiver, but the one most generally resorted to
is insolvency.
The Board of Governors, upon its own initiative, may, after
hearing, forfeit the membership of a member State bank at any time it
shall appear that a member bank has failed to comply with the provisions
of certain statutes, principally section 9 of the Federal Reserve Act
or the regulations of the Board of Governors.
To. terminate the insurance of a national bank the F.D.I.C.
must notify the Comptroller of the bank's violation of law or continued
unsound practices and if the Comptroller does not obtain correction in
120 days the F.D.I.C. may hold a hearing and terminate the bank's insured status, in which event the Comptroller must appoint a receiver.
In the case of State member banks, the F.D.I.C. must notify the Board
of Governors and if the Board does not obtain correction in 120 days,
the F.D.I.C. may hold a hearing and terminate the bank's insured
status, in which event the Board must terminate the membership of the




M»QW»

subject bank in the Federal Reserve System.

In the case of nonmember

insured banks the F.D.I.C. must notify the appropriate State authority
and if such authority does not obtain correction in 120 days, the F.D.I.C.
may hold a hearing end terminate the bank's insured status.
2.

In addition to the visitorial powers of State supervisory

authorities in the case of State banks and certain rights of examination
retained by the R.F.C. in the field of its relationships, each of the
three agencies, with respect to one or more of the classes of banks involved, has the right of examination*
In the case of national banks the Comptroller of the Currency
is directed to examine each bank twice yearly and "oftener if considered
necessary11.

In addition, the Board of Governors in its discretion may

cause a national bank to be examined? a Reserve bank, with the approval
of the Federal Reserve Agent or the Board of Governors may provide for
a special examination; and the F.D.I.C. may examine it with the written
consent of the Comptroller of the Currency.
In the case of State member banks the Board of Governors or
a Reserve bank may cause the bank to be examined as may also the F.D.I.C,
with the written consent of the Board of Governors.
In the case of nonmember insured banks the F.D.I.C. may examine. If such bank happens to be an affiliate or holding company
affiliate it is also subject to examination by the Comptroller of the
Currency or by the Board of Governors as the case may be. Likewise, as
to all banks, including even non-insured banks, the Board of Governors




•"•Q««»

may make "inspections" in connection with its functions under the
Securities Exchange Act.
It also may be observed that the Comptroller of the Currency
and the F*D#I.C# are authorized to publish their reports of examination
if recommendations contained therein are not complied with in 120 days
and provided 90 days notice of intention to publish is given.
3.

With respect to reports which can be required:

National banks must make not less than three reports of condition yearly to the Comptroller in form prescribed by him, which
must be published in a local newspaper*
may call for special reports*

In addition, the Comptroller

Within ten days after declaring a dividend

they must report the amount thereof to the Comptroller, together with
the amount of net earnings in excess of each dividend*

They must on

July 15th and January 15th of each year file with the F.D*I*C. certified
statements showing the "assessment base", such assessment base depending
upon "deposits11 and "uncollected items" each defined partly by statute
and partly by the f.D.I.C,

Tbey must make such reports as the Board of

Governors may require in enabling it to perform its functions under the
Securities Exchange Act*

If a national bank has an "affiliate" or a

"holding company affiliate" it must furnish and publish reports in
accordance with the applicable statutes and the Comptroller is authorized to call for additional reports*

If it maintains a foreign branch

the Comptroller may require it to furnish information concerning the
condition of such branch and if it has invested in the capital of a




~7foreign bank the Board of Governors may require it to furnish information concerning the condition of such corporation*
State member banks must make reports of condition to the
Reserve banks on dates fixed by the Board of Governors at least three
times yearly in form prescribed and published as required by the Board*
They must report payment of dividends to Reserve banks. They must on
July 15th and January 15th of each year file with the F.D.I.C. certified
statements showing the "assessment base11, such assessment base depending
upon "deposits11 and "uncollected items" each defined partly by statute
and partly by the F.D.I.C.

They must make such reports as the Board of

Governors may require in enabling it to perform its functions under the
Securities Exchange Act.

If a State membafjbank has an "affiliate" or

a "holding company affiliate" it must furnish and publish reports in
accordance with the applicable statute and the Board of Governors is
authorized to call for additional reports. If it has invested in the
capital of a foreign bank the Board of Governors may require it to fttrnish
information concerning the condition of such corporation.
Insured nonmember bonks, in addition to the reports showing
the "assessment base" required to be filed on or before July 15th and
January 15th of each year, must make and publish such reports as the
F.D.I.C. may require in such form and at such time as it may prescribe.
They must make such reports as the Board of Govei-nors may require in
enabling it to perform its functions under the Securities Exchange Act.




-84*

The Comptroller of the Currency charters all national

banking associations based upon standards partly fixed ty law and partly
fixed by the Comptroller in the exercise of his judgment*

Automatically,

such banks become member banks of the Federal Reserve £System and their
deposits become insured by the F.D.I.C.

State banks are, of course,

chartered by the State of their location in accordance with standards
fixed by the law of the particular State or by the particular supervising
authority or by both, but standards for admission of such banks to the
Federal Reserve Eastern are fixed by Federal statutes and by the Board of
Governors of the Federal Reserve System, by means of the imposition of
conditions of membership.

Deposits of such banks are automatically in-

sured by the F.D.I.C. Until July 1, 1942, the F.D.I.C. may permit any
nonmember insured bank to become insured and after that date may permit
a nonmember bank with deposits under $1,000,000 to become insured. Irrespective of the granting and issuance of a charter by the Comptroller
of the Currency or by State, as the case may be, national banks and
State member banks, under existing regulations, must obtain a license
to operate from the Secretary of the Treasury.
The approval of the Comptroller of the Currency is required
for a reduction in capital by a national bank and the written consent
of the F.D.I.C. is required for reduction or retirement of common or
preferred stock or capital notes or debentures of insured nonmember banks
except in the District of Columbia, but there is no Federal control over
a reduction in capital by a State member bank unless some control has
been retained by the Board of Governors as a condition of membership.




-9The Comptrollers approval is required for the consolidation
of national banks and, for certain purposes, is required for the consolidation of a State bank with a national bank. The written consent
of the F.D.I.C. is required for an insured bank to consolidate with a
non-insured bank, assume liability for a non-insured bank's deposits,
or transfer assets to a non-insured bank in return for assumption of
deposits.
5. Notwithstanding the fact that national banks are chartered
by the Comptroller of the Currency, they may exercise trust powers only
when permission has been granted by the Board of Governors and the
regulation of the exercise of such power is vested in the Board of Governors • There is no express supervision of the exercise of trust powers
by insured nonmember banks and in the case of State member banks there
is only such control as the Board of Governors may exercise through the
imposition of conditions of membership.
6.

The Comptroller, subject to the requirements of statute,

must approve the establishment of branches of national banks, except
foreign branches which are approved by the Board of Governors} the
Board of Governors, except as to intra-city branches, must approve the
establishment of branches by State member banks; but consent of the
F.D.I.C. is required for any insured nonmember bank to establish ffany
new branch" or to move any branch.
7.

Section 5136 cf the U.S.R.S., among^other things and

subject to certain restrictions, permits national banks to purchase for
their own account investment securities under such limitations end




-10-.
restrictions as the Comptroller of the Currency may by regulation prescribe. In addition to the definition therein contained, the section
provides for such further definition of the term "investment securities91
as may by regulation be prescribed by the Comptroller of the Currency,
and paragraph 19 of section 9 of the Federal Reserve Act provides that
State member banks shall be subject to the same limitations in this
respect as national banks*
8.

The power to broaden the limit of the amount of acceptances

which a bank may accept for one person is vested in the Board of Governors
with respect both to national banks and member State banks.
9.

Congress has seen fit to prohibit the payment of interest

on demand deposits; to limit the interest payable on time and savings
deposits; and to regulate the payment of time deposits before maturity.
National and State member banks are prohibited by statute from, directly
or indirectly, by any device whatsoever paying any interest on any demand deposit.

In the case of such banks, the Board of Governors is

authorized to define certain terms, to determine what shall be deemed
to be a payment of interest, to prescribe such rules and regulations as
it may deem necessary to effectuate the purposes of the law and prevent
evasions thereof, and to limit the rate of interest which may be paid
by such banks on time and savings deposits. In the case of nonmember
insured banks the F.D.I.C, is directed to prohibit by regulation the
payment of interest on demand deposits and authorized to define "demand deposits". It is directed to make such exceptions from the prohibition as are permitted to member banks by Federal Reserve Act and




the Board of Governors1 regulation*

It is also directed to limit the

rate of interest payable on time and savings deposits, to prohibit
payment of time deposits before maturity except under regulation of
the F*D*I*C, to prohibit waiving of requirement of notice before payment of savings deposits except as to all savings deposits having the
same requirement, and to define what constitutes time and savings deposits in an insured nonmember bank*
10.

Congress has seen fit to make provision for the removal

for cause of officers and directors of member banks*

In the case of

national banks the proceeding is initiated by the filing of a certificate

of the facts warranting removal with the Board of Governors by

the Comptroller*

In the case of State member banks the proceeding is

initiated by the filing of a similar certificate by the Federal Reserve
Agent,

In both cases the hearing is before and the decision is by the

Board of Governors*
11*

Congress has seen fit to prohibit, with certain exceptions,

any director, officer, or employee of a member bank serving any other
bank. The Board of Governors, as provided in the Clayton Act, is
authorized to enforce compliance with this section both in the case of
national banks and in the case of State member banks*
12*

Congress has seen fit both as to national and State member

banks to forbid a director, officer, or employee of a security company
serving such a bank except in limited classes of cases as may be permitted by a general regulation of the Board of Governors.




-1215,

Congress has seen fit to forbid executive officers, with

certain exceptions, to become indebted to their banks and to forbid
banks to make loans to their executive officers•

The effectuation of

this statute by regulation and the defining of the term "executive
officer" is delegated to the Board of Governors with respect to both
State member and national banks.
14 • Congress has seen fit to provide that in the case of a
sale of any security or property to a bank by a director or by a firm
of which any director is a member, the Board of Governors may, by regulation, require full disclosure of the commissions when the director or
firm sells for others and of the profits when the sale is made for the
director or fLm« This applies as well to national as to member State banks.
15.

Congress has seen fit to forbid the affiliation of a member

bank with a security company and has provided that a penalty of $1,000
per day may be assessed by the Board of Governors and collected by the
proper Federal Reserve bank. This applies alike to national and State
member banks. In the case of a national bank, after six months1 violation
the bankfs charter may be forfeited in a suit brought by the Comptroller
in his own name at the Board's direction*

In the case of a State member

bank, its membership may be terminated.
16•

Congress has seen fit to regulate the relations of banks

with so-called "holding company affiliates" and has vested the question
of certain determinations thereunder as well as the granting to them of
voting permits to the Board of Governors in the case of national as well
as member State banks.




-1317.

Congress has undertaken to prevent the excessive use of

credit for speculative purposes and for such purpose has empowered the
Board of Governors to regulate the extension and maintenance of credit
for the purpose of purchasing or carrying securities registered on national securities exchanges. This power extends to all banks.
18*

The F.D.I.C, may require any insured bank to insure

against burglary, defalcation and other insurable losses.
* 19.

The Comptroller of the Currenqy is charged with supervi-

sion of the liquidation of banks for which he has appointed a receiver.
Nevertheless, when he shall have closed a bank on account of its inability to meet the demands of its depositors, he must appoint the
P.D.I.Cv receiver, and it liquidates the affairs of the insolvent bank
under the supervision of the Comptroller of the Currency who, in turn,
is authorized to waive and relieve the F.D.I.C. from complying with any
regulation of the Comptroller with respect to receiverships where, in his
discretion, such action is deemed advisable to simplify administration.
The F.D.I.C. must also accept appointment as receiver in the
case of State banks if such appointment is tendered by the authority
having supervision of such banks and is authorized by State law.
The public interest naturally is the basic interest underlying all Federal supervision, but it must be remembered that while one
is apt to think of supervision only in the broad sense of the security
of the public in its dealings with banks, there is also involved supervision and control of the use of credit, as well as, supervision relating to the Government's status as a capital investor, as a creditor and




-14-

as an underwriter.

To the extent that any of the agencies is engaged

in supervision based upon considerations relating to one or more of the
above objectives, but not relating to all of them, there is planted the
seed from which may spring conflicts of viewpoints, conflicts in the
exercise of similar powers, and resulting waste and confusion.
It is little wonder, therefore, that this hybrid system of
supervision has produced:
1.

Duplicate corps of review examiners maintained in Washington

by the Comptroller of the Currency, the F.D.I.C., and the Board of Governors, as well as the R.F.C.

Duplicate corps of field examiners main-

tained in 12 separate districts by the Comjjtroller of the Currency, the
F.D.I.C, and the Board of Governors, as well as the maintenance of a
corps of examiners in the many agencies of the R.F.C.
2.

Duplication of examination avoided only to the extent of

the exercise of mutual cooperation between the agencies and even then
resulting in dissatisfaction at the methods and standards employed by
the examining agency selected.
3. Inability to agree upon uniform examining standards and
resulting application of different standards in the classification of
assets; in the appraisal of real estate loans; in the treatment of depreciation in bonds and the values at which they should be carried; in the
treatment of valuation reserves; and in the determination of losses.




4.

Examination of one class of banks at the expense of others.

-15-

National banks are assessed for each examination, but the F.D.I.C, which,
in examining only nonmember banks, examines more banks than any other
agency, makes no charge for examination, although the greater part of
the assessments upon which it operates is paid by member banks which it
does not examine.
5.

Duplication and multiplicity of reports provoking admis-

sions and statements along following lines:
"Reports of condition now being issued to the public
are confusing because of their inadequacy and lack of uniformity."
(Chairman Leo T. Crowley to House.Committee on Banking and Currency, February 19SS)
"Calls for information from banking institutions have
increased in recent years. The number of Governmental offices
interested in obtaining information from banking institutions
has increased substantially in recent months* At the present
time the R.F.C., the Securities Exchange Commission, the Treasury Department, the Comptroller of the Currency, the F.D.I.C.
and the Federal Reserve Board are all asking for information,
and recently the Department of Agriculture and the Federal
Housing Administration have requested us to obtain information
for them. This has increased the work of the member banks
considerable* Many of them resent quite vigorously the extra
work that is thrust upon them."
(Edward L. Smead, Chief of the Board1s Division of Bank Operations, at the conference on Call Report Standardization,
May, 1955)
« * * # the bank - a trust company member of the
Federal Reserve - was called on to make about 50 condition
reports, of one sort or other, each year to external agencies. The time periods covered were divided as follows:
daily, lj weekly, 5} monthly, 4j bi-monthly, lj quarterly,
10j semi-annually, 1} annually, 28. A few calculations on
a scratch pad provided the astonishing information that in
cariying this routine through a year the bank had to prepare
about 700 reports, several of which contained multiple
schedules. * * * It would be hazardous, for one example,
to attempt an estimate of how much the supplying of supervisory information costs all banks, but it might be fair to
assume that this is a fair sample, proportionately, for




-16-

trust companies operating in the state in which the bank
is located. And it also seems fair to say that many of the
regulatory.authorities have realized the enormous duplication of effort, the needless expense, and other features
of the burden. The task of simplification, started last
May at a conference in the Washington offices of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, is receiving the cooperation of such Federal agencies as the Reserve Board,
the Comptroller, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation,
the Treasury, and the FmTi.I.C., as well as the Reserve City
Bankers Association, National Association of Bank Auditors
and Comptrollers, American Bankers Association, and National
Association of Supervisors of State Banks. Completion of
the work may mean that the number of reports required from
the bank referred to in this article can be reduced by 80
per cent."
(Article in "Banking", March 19S6)
6.

Recognition of need for correction as evidenced by the

following statements:
"The most essential factor, in my opinion, for a
continuance of a sound banking system is a unification and
standardization of supervisory policy and procedure. It is
necessary that we use uniform standards with all problems
concerning supervision and that we use the same standards
in determining the soundness of individual banks; otherwise
it will be impossible to determine their position in the
system with any degree of accuracy."
(Chairman Leo T. Crowley, September 1936)
"I believe it would be highly desirable if we
could have centralized examinations."
(J. F. T. 0!Connor, in answer to a question before the
Senate Committee on Banking in April, 1935)
But inability, nevertheless, to agree upon standard forms which
would reduce the multiplicity of reports. For instance, in 1935 the
F.D.I.C. initiated a movement to standardize reports and some progress
was made with respect to standardization as between the various states
and the F.D.I.C.

Repeated conferences wore held between the technicians

of the F.D*I.C, the Board of Governors and others representing states




- 17 -

and private interests. Some progress was made as between some of the
states, the F.D.I.C. and the Board of Governors but it has proved impossible to effect standardization between the three Federal agencies•
The press has reported the incident as being a controversy between the
F.D.I.C. and the Comptroller of the Currency and has quoted the Comptroller as saying that he "had no prior notice of tho meeting" and that
"the forms of Call Reports under the Federal law are required to be prepared under the direction and authorization of the Comptroller of the
Currency for national banks",

(Herald Tribune, March 14, 19S6)

7. Public confusion and inability of those concerned to determine to which of the several agencies a particular matter should be
referred as evidenced by the following statement:
"We have been in frequent communication with the
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the officers of
the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the Comptroller's
office, our Chief National Bank Examiner, Mr. Leyburn, at
Cleveland, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation at
Washington, as well as Chief Examiner Stroefer at Columbus,
and Mr. Squire, our State Superintendent of Banks, in regard to interpretations and methods of operation under, the
new legislation. We have had their cooperation in interpreting the meaning of various provisions and have passed
this information along to our members, who found this service very helpful."
(John H. McCoy, President, Ohio Bankers Association, 1956
Annual Convention)
8.

Enforced acceptance of members into tho Federal Reserve

System end enforced insurance of deposits by the F.D.I.C. through the
exercise of chartering powers by the Comptroller of the Currency and,
in the case of insurance, both through the exercise of chartering
powers by the Comptroller of the Currency and the acceptance of State




- 18 -

member banks by the Federal Reserve Sjystem. This on one occasion has resulted in public charges that the Comptroller of the Currency, against the
judgment and recommendation of both of the other agencies, has chartered a
national bank, thereby forcing it upon the Federal Reserve System as a member bank and upon the F.D.I.C. as an insured bank.

(New York Herald Tribune,

11/15/56, reporting the Case speech)
In this connection it may be noted that in the annual report of
the F.D.I.C. for the year 1956 the following comments are made:
"In the Federal establishment, greater coordination
than has hitherto obtained is essential to the various agencies
which charter and supervise deposit, savings, loan, investment
and other credit institutions;ft
and
"The Corporation believes that no bank should be permitted to become insured without its approval"
9.

Application of different requirements in the admission of

State banks as members of the Federal Reserve System from those applied
fcy the Comptroller of the Currency in the chartering of national banks*
10.

Application of different standards as between member State

banks and national banks in the granting of voting permits to "holding
company affiliates". For instance, in weighing requests for such permits
it was the Board's practice to apply the same standards and in some cases
higher standards than those imposed as an incident to membership by State
banks but, with respect to national banks, requirements were lessened, due,
apparently, to the insistence of the Comptroller that such matters as determinations of losses to be charged offfcynational banks are solely
within the province of his office.




- 19 -

11.

Different definitions of the same term. - For instance, the

F.D.I.C.'s definition of the terra "deposits", for the purpose of computing
assessments, is different from the definition of that term by the Board of
Governors for the purpose of computing required reserves*
12.

Two agencies unable to agree in th* execution of a common

mandate of law. - Member banks are prohibited from paying interest on demand deposits and the Board of Governors is authorized to prescribe such
rules and regulations as may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of the
law. The F.D.I.C. is directed by law to prohibit by regulation the payment
of interest on demand deposits by nonmember insured banks. No one would
argue that a correspondent bank absorbs oxcnange charges on items which it
collects except in consideration of the use of someone's funds. However,
because the absorption of such charges by other than the correspondent bank
and, in the last analysis, by the public, might result in the inability of
certain nonmember insured banks to make such charges because of the public's
unwillingness to pay them and because of differences of opinion as to the
law's intent, whatever its letter, the F.D.I.C. and the Board of Governors
were never able to bring their respective regulations into

substantial con-

formity, until, by force of necessity and as a matter of expediency, uniform'
general language was agreed upon declaratory of what everyone knew the law
to be. Until there is found some means of applying the agreed language to
a particular case however, and until uniformity in its application to particular cases is obtained, the public and the banks are left in confusion
as well as in the unfair position of some banks following one practice and
others another.




- 20 -

13.

The maintenance by each of the agencies of large staffs

other than examiners engaged in the same or similar activities, such as
the collection of statistics and similar lines of endeavor.
14.

Petty inter-agency jealousy of prerogatives and resulting

hesitancy to take desirable action lest prerogatives be surrendered.
15.

Permitting the continued operation of allegedly insolvent

and admittedly weak banks desperately in need of reorganization, while
the agencies involved have unsuccessfully tried to agree upon a plan,
failure to do which, may in some part be attributed to motives of self
interest upon the part of one or more of the agencies concerned.
16.

The Comptroller of the Currency issuing regulations re-

lating to investments by which both national banks and State member banks
are to be governed and, in the view of the Board of Governors, interpreting the regulations and applicable statutes in some respects beyond the
scope of the authority conferred by the statute. The inevitable result
of this state of affairs is one standard for national banks and another
for State member banks - the standard in both cases however, resting upon
identical legal wording.
17.

Each of the agencies, within its own sphere and upon its

own consideration, independently and without coordination, instituting
remedial action of some character.

Thus, it is that in one national bank

the F.D.I.C. instituted proceedings to terminate the bank's insurance, the
probable results of which will be the appointment of the F.DfI.C. as receiver*




During the course of consideration of the advisability of such

- 21 -

action by the F.D.I.C, of which Board the Comptroller of the Currency is
a member, he, by certificate filed with the Board of Governors instituted
proceedings against the president of the bank to remove him from office.
The Board promptly initiated an expensive hearing but during the timely
course of its deliberation, it became necessary for the Comptroller to
appoint a conservator. The result is that the Board of Governors has removed an officer from a bank in which the Comptroller of the Currency has
already appointed a conservator, who in turn, unless effective corrections
are made in the bank, will be supplanted by the F.D.I.C. as receiver.
18.

Threats upon the part of some banks to denationalize in

order to escape regulation and supervision toy the Comptroller of the Currency; threats upon the part of other banks to retire from the Federal
Reserve System in order to escape regulation and sig>ervision l y the Fed^
eral Reserve System; and threats upon the part of still other banks to
join the Federal Reserve System in order to escape regulation and supervision by the F.D.I.C.
19.

And, finally, the extraordinaiy situation of one supervis-

ing agency liquidating a bank subject to the supervision ofanother supervisory agency.
Under these circumstances, therefore, can the conclusion be
escaped that the existing machinery has developed inefficiency for which
corrective measures should be employed?
Improvement by Elimination of Divided
Responsibility and Consolidation of Functions
Simply as a matter of good organization it would appear undesirable to establish a division of labor or authority in connection with




- 22

Federal supervision of banks subject thereto*

As well may it be argued

that there should be one Interstate Commerce Commission for railroads and
another one for trucks. Divided responsibility is likely to produce a
failure to act because of the lack of full responsibility to act*
Moreover, while the degree or extent of such reliance may not
be the subject of definite ascertainment at least it may be stated as a
fact that public reliance and dependence is put upon Federal supervision.
That feeling may be with respect to the Comptroller of the Currenpy or
the F.D.I.C. or the Federal Reserve System, but more likely it is with
rospect to a vague and ha?y idea of some comprehensive Federal authority.
That is the very point - To illustrate, the following is quoted from the
Commission on Banking Law and Practice of the Association of Reserve City
Bankers-Bulletin of July 24, 1953:
"As nearly as we can appraise the opinion of the man
on the street, it is something like this. He knows that a bank
charter cannot be obtained except from a Government agency. He
knows that when the sign fBankf is put over a door that a Government agency has endorsed that establishment and permitted it
to accept deposits from any man or woman who may choose to enter. It is a further fact, that the average small depositor
has no basis for discriminating between a safe bank and an unsafe bank. If we were to provide him ?dth a statement of the
bank and all the supporting documents he would still be unable
to form a correct judgment as to thfe safety of the institution
in question. When, in these circumstances, thousands of banks
close, involving heavy losses to depositors, tho average man
feels that a severe injustice has been perpetrated. A man's
savings are almost as important to him as life itself, and if,
through no fault of his own, his deposits arc lost, he cannot
be expected to do otherwise than raise a clamor against this
injustice. It is a public menace like unsafe grade crossings,
or fire hazard, or reckless automobile driving, from which the
small depositor has a right to expect protection from those in
authority. From millions of men and women in this situation a
demand has arisen that their deposits should be protected. As
long as bank failures are permitted to continue, tnis demand
will exist."




- 25 -

It follows therefore, that if the public is to hold the government responsible for effective supervision - there should be some place
where that responsibility can be fixed*

He indeed is an optimist who, when

a bank has failed, can forsee the Secretary of the Treasury, because he licensed it, the Comptroller of the Currency, because he chartered it and exercised general supervision, the Board of Governors, because it was a member bank, and the F*D.I*C, because it was an insured bank, vying with each
other in an effort to assume responsibility for inadequate supervision
contributing to its failure*

More likely the case will be similar to the

one reported to the Senate Committee on Banking by one of its examiners
in connection with the Senate hearing on stock exchange practices, as follows:
fl

As stated previously, we cannot help but feel that the
break-down of the Guardian Trust Co* can in a large measure be
traced to State bank examiners and the State superintendent of
banks of Ohio* Had examinations been made as specified by law
and conducted in a more thorough manner, many of the evils which
resulted in the bank's closing would have been eliminated before
serious damage was done* However, unwarned and uncriticized, the
bank management continued to conduct the affairs of the bank in
such a manner that by February 28, 1935, its condition was such
that there was no alternative save liquidation.11
In this same report it was said relative to examinations by the
Federal Reserve bank:
ff

The National Government recognizing its responsibilities in this respect has embodied in section 9281 of the Federal
Code the following in regard to banks coming under Federal supervision, as a result of being member banks of the Federal Reserve
Bank Sjystem:




111

The Comptroller of the Currency with the approval
of the Secretaiy of the Treasury shall appoint examiners who
shall examine every member bank at least twice in each calendar year and oftener if considered necessary. Provided* however* That the Federal Reserve Board may authorize examination

- 24 -

by the State authorities to be accepted in the case of
State banks and trust companies and may at any time direct the holding of a special examination of State banks
or trust companies that are stockholders in any Federal
Reserve bank.1
"The above section, while eliminating the necessity
of a Federal Reserve examination in years during which an examination has been conducted by the State banking authorities,
does not excuse the Federal Reserve examiner from making examinations as specified in other years. The Federal Reserve examiners with too much confidence in the ability of the Ohio
State banking department examiners, failed to conduct examinations of the Guardian Trust Co. during the following years:
1925, 1925, 1927, 1950, and 1951.
"Legally they were not excused from examining during
these years as the State superintendent of banks for Ohio also
failed to conduct an examination and the law is clear on this
point. We feel that the Federal Reserve examiner is subject to
grave criticism for the failure to follow the law in this respect, as the thorough examination made by Federal Reserve examiners would have revealed the precarious position of the
Guardian Trust Co. early in 1950 and undoubtedly many of the
evils existing could have been corrected. As to the efficacy
of Federal Reserve examinations, no criticism is made ad we
have found them to be thorough, critical and corrective.tf
Another factor to be considered in connection with the question
is that of cost.

The best estimate obtainable as to the present cost of

Federal supervision would indicate that it amounts to approximately
#9,000,000 per year, divided as follows: Comptroller of the Currency
$5,800,000; F.D.I.G. $2,500,000; Board of Governors $1,400,000 and Federal Reserve banks $1,500,000. The foregoing figures include, for the
Comptroller of the Currency, the 12 district offices, and are based upon
the Comptroller's annual report for 1955 but do not include expenses in
connection with the issuance and redemption of currency. Of this total,
$216,000, representing regular salary roll, is paid from appropriation




- 25 -

and the balance is assessed against banks. The estimate of $2,500,000
for the F.D.I.C. represents the estimated total of the annual administrative expenses of the corporation, including its district offices, as indicated by its annual report of June SO, 1936. The estimate of $1,400,000
for the Board of Governors includes the total salaries and expenses of
the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System except expenses in
connection with the issuance and redemption of currency, and the expenses
of the Federal Reserve banks are represented by the expenses of other bank
examination departments without any allowance for overhead.
Obviously no one can estimate with exactness the extent to
which the foregoing cost could be reduced if the functions of the three
agencies were consolidated.

However, in the light of what is known with

respect to the existing duplication of effort and duplication of personnel, common sense dictates that the ultimate coat could be materially and
substantially reduced.
Last and perhaps most important of the many considerations favoring consolidation of the supervisory functions is the resulting facility
with which such functions could then be coordinated and correlated with
national credit policies.
As was pointed out by Dr. Jacob Viner in an article entitled
"Recent Legislation and the Banking Situation11 appearing in the American
Economic Review, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, Supplement, March 1956:
H* * * The examiners, through the qualitative credit
standards which they impose on banks, indirectly influence the
quantity of bank credit. When business is prosperous and optimism prevails, examiners, like the bankers themselves, must




- 26

tend to appraise credit risks in terms of the favorable conditions of the moment* The bankers, and especially the small
bankers, confident that what is good enough to pass the scrutiny of the examiners should be good enough to meet their own
standards, persist on their career of credit expansion. Later, when the tide of business turns, when banks begin to fail
and loans which were passed without criticism during the boom
days have to be written off as bad debts, the examiners are
blamed. Reacting in a perfectly natural manner, they become
stricter and more exacting in the standards they apply, and
they press the banks to liquidate loans and investments which
the banks, if left to their own devices, would be happy to
keep in their portfolios. The process of bank examination
thus tends to encourage credit expansion during the upswing
of the business cycle and, more seriously, to intensify credit
contraction during the downswing.
"There is an obvious cure for this perverse effect
of bank examination, requiring three innovations in the administration of the examinations: unified control of bank supervision and examination; co-ordination of examination policy
with credit control policy; and systematic and continuous supervision and instruction of the examiners in terms of a uniform
and flexible policy. Fully to attain all of these objectives
would require the centralization of all bank examining functions
under the direction of the Federal Reserve Board."
One has but to remember the pressure upon banks by various supervisory authorities for and the resulting disaster in connection with socalled "secondaiy reserves" of bonds and investments to realize the force
of this point.
Should consolidation be effected then it would follow that examiners could be schooled along the same lines and trained and directed to
apply uniform standards in the classification of assets, the appraisal of
management, the development of sound practices and discouragement of unsound practices all along basic and fixed policy lines correlated with existing national policies.




- 27 -

As a proposition, therefore, in order to secure more efficient
supervision at less cost it appears desirable to consolidate all supervisory functions in one agency.

Consolidation of Functions in the
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
In the light of its present responsibilities, its availability,
and its equipment, it is submitted that that agency should be the Board
of Governors•
Of the three agencies, it is the Board of Governors which is
charged with responsibility for monetary and credit policies of the United
States. This responsibility is met largely through the exercise of control and regulation over discount rates, reserve and margin requirements,
and the activities of the Federal Reserve banks in the open market.
With respect to the influence of supervision by examination
Vipon the quality and quantity of credit in banks much has been said that
need not be repeated. It may be pointed out, however, that had the Board
had complete control of the examination and supervision of banks subject
to Federal supervision in 1928 and 1929 it could, through its influence
in making examinations, have made its direct action policy more effeotiro and could have further discouraged the use of bank credit for speculative purposes.
As a matter of fact this period is graphically illustrative of
the necessity of coordinating and correlating examining standards with
existing national policies. If the responsibility of examining is in one
body and the responsibility to formulate national policies is in another,




- 28

the opportunity for differences of opinion is ever present and, as in
the past, unless responsibility is fixed in one body, the time may come
when the Board of Governors will establish one credit policy and the examining authority will encourage a diametrical one*
It has been and may be argued with considerable force that examining functions should never be vested in an agency in which there exists the possibility of a conflict of interest as between the status of
such agency as a creditor or underwriter and its status as a supervisor.
Typical of this viewpoint is the following statement of the Comptroller
of the Currency appearing in the American Banker of July IS, 1956, as
follows:
"If we are to have a national banking system over
which the Government exercises supervisory control, that control must be in the hands of an independent executive and not
the representative of a preferential creditor.
"This subject was again brought up following the
'Banking Holiday.9 With the calming of the hysteria, however, following the stunning blow of the depression, the
agitation seems to be overwhelmed with the logic that our
major banking system should be supervised by an independent
bureau and not one having a direct or indirect monetary interest in the banks under supervision, or required by law to
extend them credit or assume responsibility for their liabilities. It appears, therefore, that the Bureau (office of the
Comptroller of the Currency) with its histoiy of 73 years is,
through the evolution of our financial structure, more firmly
entrenched today than ever as a public necessity."
The efficacy of this argument depends upon the assumption that
in no case can self-interest be divorced from public interest and that
where self-interest is involved inevitably it will be favored.

This is,

of course, a factor to be considered but when weighed against the desirability of coordinating supervision v/ith national policies and the evils




- 29 -

from failure to do so, it appears as a relatively unimportant one.

More-

over, as an effective answer it may be pointed out that the whole philosophy of the Federal Reserve System is ba3ed upon subordination of the profit motive to the public good and in weighing this factor the public character and duties of the Board of Governors must not be disregarded.

It

can as well act in the public interest and against any possible selfish
interest of the Federal Reserve banks in the supervision of banks as it
can in directing the purchase or sale of securities in the open market
in the public good but at a loss to the Federal Reserve banks.
With respect to the availability and equipment of the Federal
Reserve System to undertake the task, it need only be pointed out that
already the System has a seasoned and trained staff of technicians in
Washington, 12 banks and 25 branches blanketing the nation, manned by
officers and employees having long and broad experience and an intimate
knowledge of the banking problems of their respective districts. Through
this long experience they have acquired a personal knowledge of past and
current policies and activities of most of their member banks and .many of
the nonmember banks and, with added responsibility, this feature could be
expanded.

They are constantly brought in touch with the banks in their

daily operations either with respect to reserves, borrowings, transit
operations or other matters and through this they have the opportunity
to and do often acquire knowledge not available to an examiner in his
short and periodic visits. Such information is useful and, with entire
responsibility for supervision consolidated in the Board of Governors,
it could be more effectively availed of.




- so Of less importance, but nevertheless a consideration, is the
fact that the F.D.I.C. was capitalized on funds of the Federal Reserve
System aggregating $159,000,000 and $150,000,000 contributed by the Government theoretically as a return to the banking system for $149,000,000
paid by the System as a franchise tax. Hence the System already has a
large stake in the F.D.I.C.
Therefore, it is offered as a proposition that Federal supervision of banking should be consolidated in the Board of Governors along
the lines of the following discussion.
The desirability of fixing undivided responsibility should not
bo confused with the desirability of decentralizing activities to the extent possible. ' The important factors in consolidation are the fixing of
undivided responsibility and the coordination of activities along uniform
and standard lines. Centralization of all activities in Washington, even
if not impossible, would seem highly imdesirablo and, correspondingly, decentralization to the extent that it can be accomplished without destroying the application of uniform standards would seem to be a desirable
thing. In the first place, the task is simply too much to be undertaken
at one point and, in the second place, there are obvious advantages in
personal association and in the accumulated information and background of
information obtainable through activity in the field. That, in certain
cases, delegation of authority is desirable seems to be a principle recognized fay section 507 of the pending bill to reorganize Government
agencies, which permits the delegation of functions vested in and imposed upon a head of an agency.




- SI -

Accordingly, after consolidation of all supervisory functions
in the Board, it would be the purpose of the Board to decentralize activities

in so far as possible by the establishment of district supervisory

authorities, whose field of activities would be co-extensive with Federal
Reserve district lines. He would serve at the pleasure of the Board and
correspond somewhat to the present chief national bank examiner.

To him

would be entrusted:
1*

The examination and supervision- of commercial

banks and their affiliates in the district, in accordance
with general policies and standards fixed by the Board.
2.

The approval or disapproval of applications for

charters, permits, changes in capital, etc. subject to the
applicantfs right to appeal to the Board in particular cases
in accordance with uniform standards fixed by the Board.
S.

The approval or disapproval of plans of reorgani-

zation, consolidation and liquidation, subject to the right
of appeal to the Board in particular cases.
4.

The initiation of removal proceedings under section

50 of the Banking Act of 1953, of capital requirement proceedings, and of expulsion from the insurance fund or from membership in the Federal Reserve System.
5.

The receipt, review and tabulation of statistics from

call and other reports.
6.

The duty to furnish the Board with examination reports

or analyses thereof, or such other information as might be required from time to time*




- 52

One objection often heard to the delegation of supervisory powers
to the Board of Governors and particularly to the Federal Reserve banks
arises out of the fact that six of the directors of a Federal Reserve bank
are elected by commercial banks in the district and to that extent the
banks would be subjecting themselves to supervision by their associates
and even competitors. This, it is recognized, may be both objectionable
and undesirable*

For that reason it would be the Boardfs purpose in de-

centralizing examining activities to delegate supervisoiy authority to
someone responsible only to it and not in any wise responsible to the Federal Reserve bank, except for cooperation and willingness to cooperate.
The Board, in addition to its present functions with respect to
the direction of credit policies and general supervision of the twelve
Federal Reserve banks would:
1.

Establish uniform policies of general application

to the chartering, examining and supervising of commercial banks.
2.

Coordinate activities to the end that uniform and

standard policies would be uniformly applied*
S.

Handle the appeal of all matters wherein the deci-

sion of the district supervisor is not final.
4.

Determine the date, form and conditions of all re-

ports and give direction to the review and analyses of the same.
5.

Appoint conservators and receivers for banks.

6.

Appoint district supervisors and their assistants.

Under this plan it would be the hope that those regulated would
be able to submit their problems to one authority in one office within




33

their own district and receive an answer • At the same time it would be
the hope that having granted authority commensurate with the responsibility and having established means whereby uniform standards consistent
with basic national policy could be fixed and applied, there would result
a higher degree of efficiency in supervision with less disturbance to the
banking system and at less cost to it as well as to the national economy.