The time has come for federal and state lawmakers and regulators to sort out the complicated and conflicting laws that now govern the nation's banking system. One good approach that's already gained some traction is federal laws that can be copied at the state level and thus applied to both national and state banks. More of the same approach would be beneficial for banks, borrowers, regulators and the banking system. Two examples illustrate the problem: Last month, the U.S. Supreme Count heard arguments in Watters v. Wachovia Bank, in which a national bank argued that states can't impose their own regulations on the bank's state-chartered subsidiaries. The bank's argument depends on a 2001 ruling by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency that said federal law preempts such state regulations even when the national bank's subsidiaries are state-chartered. The case presents a clear conflict between the powers of federal preemption and the need for state-level regulation...
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