WASHINGTON - Commercial banks, which only a few years ago seemed to be headed the way of the comer grocery store, have been restored to full health as a central provider of ffnancial services in the U.S. marketplace.

That message was conveyed loud and clear at a hearing last week of the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by retiring Sen. Donald Riegle, D-Mich. Riegle, who once got his share of bad publicity for his role in the Keating Five savings and loan scandal, closed out his 28 years in Congress under a shower of compliments from his Republican and Democratic colleagues for his leadership in banking legislation.

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