WASHINGTON-In a speech to the Exchequer Club last week, FDIC Chairman Don Powell proposed a new federal regulatory structure for the banking, securities, and insurance industries for improved efficiency and lower costs. "Why should three banks on the same street, offering the same products and services to the same customer base, be regulated by three distinctly different federal regulatory entities?" Powell asked. Under his proposal, the three industry sectors, plus those that choose an optional federal insurance charter, would have individual regulators that meet with Treasury and the Federal Reserve for policy, systemic risk, permissible activities, and product regulation decisions. His model also recommends that the new structure be financially and politically independent, like the FDIC and the Federal Reserve, and that it preserve the dual banking system of state and federal regulation for banks. "All too often, when we engage in turf warfare, the ultimate losers are the industry and the marketplace. The price is paid in lost opportunities and lost competitiveness," Powell told the bankers' group. He added that the current system wastes time and money and is becoming less related to how the banking industry operates. Chairman Powell noted that the FDIC, Office of Thrift Supervision, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency presently spend at least $200 million to fund redundant back office operations.

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