P.M. BRIEFING : Drastic Financial Shifts Planned

From Times Wire Services

The Bush Administration is preparing to recommend the most far-reaching overhaul of the nation’s financial system since the Great Depression, a top-to-bottom revamping that could eventually change the way nearly everybody in the nation handles their money, the Washington Post reported today.

Proposals now being drafted by the Treasury Department would rewrite the laws that have governed U.S. banks, savings and loans, brokerage houses and insurance companies for half a century.

The plan, to be made public in January, would impose new limits on federal deposit insurance that would take it back toward its original purpose of protecting small savers; would allow banks to become stockbrokers, sell insurance and underwrite bonds; would let Wall Street firms and other kinds of companies that are now banned from the banking business buy banks and would allow banks to buy other banks and open branches anywhere, leading to the creation of the first nationwide banks.