The 1991 banking law was designed to force regulators to intervene forcefully in troubled banks and to close the sickest. But the "too bit to fail" doctrine is not yet dead.

Come Jan. 1, 1995, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will lose its unilateral authority to continue propping up big troubled banks because their collapse might adversely affect the economy or the banking system. But that practice can continue if approved by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, and the President.

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