Brady: U.S. Needs Banking Reform to Compete Globally

WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady told international securities regulators on Tuesday that the United States urgently needs banking reform to catch up with European advances.

While the Bush administration is pressing Congress to authorize interstate branching, banks in the European Community are just over a year away from being able to branch across the borders of all 12 member nations, Mr. Brady noted.

"The U.S. cannot lag behind a revolution that has already taken place," Mr. Brady said in a speech to the International Organization of Securities Commissions. He said the European example shows that technological advances have made free trade in financial services "both possible and necessary."

A Call for Dramatic Steps

In taking his case for banking reform to the securities regulators from 50 nations -- gathered in Washington through Thursday for their annual meeting -- Mr. Brady emphasized that dramatic steps are needed to enable U.S. financial institutions to compete internationally.

"Archaic laws" that forbid U.S. banks from teaming up with securities and insurance firms must be modernized to enable these institutions to compete, he said.

"We must be current with the needs of the financial world today," Mr. Brady added.

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