The new law meant to bail out the Savings Association Insurance Fund recognizes how banks and thrifts are converging, but an obscure change in federal law will do much more to drive banks and thrifts together, analysts say.

Two months ago Congress tucked into the minimum-wage hike signed by President Clinton provisions waiving tax liability that thrifts accumulated through 1988 on bad loans. This liability discouraged thrifts from converting to banks, and hindered banks from buying thrifts.

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