In response the ever-increasing criticism of the federal banking regulatory agencies, each agency has tried to demonstrate how essential its particular role is in bank supervision — the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency being the only agency whose sole mission is bank supervision, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. being the only agency overseeing deposit insurance and the Federal Reserve Board being, well, that agency in charge of just about everything.

The agencies have also tried to demonstrate how forceful and effective they have been in the area of enforcement. This unseemly competition is changing former Fed Chairman Arthur Burns' "competition in laxity" maxim to an effort to resurrect former Comptroller Robert Clarke's self-professed image as the "Regulator from Hell."

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