As the banking industry puts 1994 behind it, the glow of long-sought interstate banking legislation and a Republican-controlled Congress are holiday gifts almost unimaginable a year ago. But don't be too quick to make those holiday toasts saluting the end of the regulatory burden.
Two old bugaboos, taxes and antitrust, still lurk in the shadows ready to take the cheer out of any banker's party.
Both issues, relatively dormant today, could blossom into royal headaches for aggressive banks ready to become national forces.
Federal and state regulators, no matter the makeup of Congress, are applying a multitude of competitive tests to bank mergers that threaten to slow consolidation.
And if the Republicans are serious about cutting taxes and spending, states will need all the tax revenue they can get. More important, each issue will be defined in a different way by each state, leaving banks a dizzying array of regulators to appease.
A national interstate banking law may be fact, but states still have considerable powers at their disposal to make life difficult for expanding banks.