The Treasury will propose the creation of a new banking regulatory agency today as part of its overhaul of the financial services industry, according to a Bush administration official.
The new agency, to be called the Federal Banking Agency, would be part of the Treasury and would take over regulatory powers from the now-independent Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., whose chairman, L. William Seidman, has often bickered with the administration over regulatory issues.
Under the Treasury proposal, there would be two regulatory agencies -- instead of the current four -- overseeing banking and savings institutions.
Under the plan, which must be approved by Congress, the Federal Reserve would oversee all state chartered banks and their holding companies. Several major New York banks would fall into that category. The newly created Federal Banking Agency would supervise all national banks, all savings and loan institutions and their holding companies.
The FDIC would retain its role as the federal insurer of bank deposits up to $100,000 and would be in charge of taking over and disposing of failed banks. The FDIC would receive monthly reports on the health of banks and thrifts.
With the approval of the Fed or the new Federal Banking Agency, the FDIC could still examine troubled banks.
The FDIC also would retain back-up regulatory power to enforce certain actions against troubled banks if the Fed or the Federal Banking Agency were to fail to act upon the FDIC's request to protect taxpayers' money that would be used in the event of a bank failure.
The Office of Thrift Supervision, an agency that is now part of the Treasury and that regulates thrifts, would be abolished and its functions would be transferred to the new Federal Banking Agency.
In addition, the Treasury proposal would take away responsibilities now held by the Comptroller of the Currency and fold them in to the new Federal Banking Agency. The Office of the Comptroller would be abolished. The current comptroller, Robert Clarke, has recently differed with the White House over strict bank examinations, which some administration officials say have contributed to tight credit.
The Federal Banking Agency would have a position similar to the current status of the comptroller or the OTS, which are independent in oversight matters.
But the Federal Banking Agency would have to work through the Treasury in order to issue regulations, thus giving the administration a greater role in banking regulatory policy than it has now.
The proposal is expected to raise concerns on Capitol Hill about the independence of bank regulators, but the Treasury said that it needs a greater say in matters of such vital importance to the economy.