WASHINGTON

The Fed is expected to abolish today nearly two dozen firewalls that make it hard for bank-affiliated section 20 units to compete against securities firms. Page 2

REGIONAL BANKING

Omaha-based Commercial Federal, a thrift company, says it is buying Liberty Financial of West Des Moines mostly for its commercial lending portfolio. Page 3

COMMUNITY BANKING

William Censky, laid off by Firstar nearly two years ago, has managed to keep busy. Last year he started a mortgage company; now he has opened a bank focusing on the main business in his Wisconsin hometown, dairy farming - even though he doesn't know much about it. Page 5

MORTGAGES

Washington Mutual and California Federal now seem the leading contenders to buy Aames Financial, the Los Angeles subprime lender. Talk of a sale began to surface shortly after investment banker Cary Thompson joined Aames as CEO, but then the front-runner was thought to be NationsBank. Page 6

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS

Amid concern that the run-up in blue chips is cresting, bank brokerage customers are beginning to international and small-cap funds. Page 7

CORPORATE FINANCE

PRIVATE PLACEMENT issues rose by about 60% in the first half, putting 1997 on track to smash last year's record of $203 billion. Page 8

Boston-based CypressTree Investment Management brought a $575 million collateralized loan and bond obligation to market. Such funds bought nearly 20% of the highly leveraged loans sold in the first half. Page 8

TECHNOLOGY

ON-LINE BANKING: Putting his financial life on the line, a reporter signs up for electronic bill payment. His conclusion: The glitches, if not corrected, could hinder more widespread consumer acceptance. Page 10

MARKET MONITOR

Michael Price's mutual fund shop at Franklin Resources has launched a portfolio specializing in securities of financial services companies. Page 20

WEEKLY REPORT: INTERNATIONAL

Sanwa California has joined the gold rush among banks in the state to boost international operations. To lead the effort it hired the international banking chief of Tokyo-Mitsubishi's California bank. Page 4

Trading in emerging-market debt fell slightly during the second quarter as worries eased that the U.S. would raise rates. Page 4

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