Eighteen years ago, White House aide Orin Kramer prepared a memo on banking issues for a new president. When the memo came back, President Carter had made clear his determination to deregulate the industry.

"In the margin he had written, 'Get rid of Regulation Q,'" recalled Mr. Kramer, now an investment banker in New Jersey. And in 1980, that marginal notation was incorporated in the law of the land.

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