More new banks have opened in 1996 than in any year since 1990, as entrepreneurs have rushed in to fill voids left by mergers and consolidation.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said that through Monday, 144 state- and federally chartered commercial banks had started operating this year. That's 41% more than the 102 in all of 1995, though a far cry from the annual totals of 200 to 400 that prevailed through most of the 1980s.

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