The national bank charter may be threatened by financial reform legislation, but in recent years it has been far more popular than the state alternative.

Assets held by national banks surged 45%, to $3.2 trillion, from 1994 through 1998. Over the same five years assets held by state banks grew 28%, to $2.2 trillion. What's more, more banks switched from state to national charters than the other way around.

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