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Reports to Comptroller of the Currency.
SEC. 5211. Every association shall make to the Comptroller of the Currency not less than five reports during each year, according to the form which may be prescribed by him, verified by the oath or affirmation of the president or cashier of such association, and attested by the signature of at least three of the directors. Each such report shall exhibit, in detail and under appropriate heads, the resources and liabilities of the association at the close of business on any past day by him specified; and shall be transmitted to the Comptroller within five days after the receipt of a request or requisition therefor from him, and in the same form in which it is made to the Comptroller shall be published in a newspaper published in the place where such association is established, or if there is no newspaper in the place, then in the one published nearest thereto in the same county, at the expense of the association; and such proof of publication shall be furnished as may be required by the Comptroller. The Comptroller shall also have power to call for special reports from any particular association whenever in his judgment the same are necessary in order to a full and complete knowledge of its condition.
Report of the National Monetary Commission, January 9, 1912. pp. 6-9.
The act of May 30, 1908, providing for the appointment of the National Monetary Commission was a direct consequence of the panic of 1907. We shall not attempt to recount the severe losses and misfortunes suffered by the American people of all classes as the result of this and similar crises. To seek for means to prevent the recurrence or to mitigate the severity of grave disasters of this character was, however, one of the primary purposes of its creation.
We have made a thorough study of the defects of our banking system, which were largely responsible for these disasters, and have sought to provide effective remedies for these and other defects, in the legislation we propose.
The principal defects in our banking system we believe may be summarized as follows:
1. We have no provision for the concentration of the cash reserves of the banks and for their mobilization and use wherever needed in times of trouble. Experience has shown that the scattered cash reserves of our banks are inadequate for purposes of assistance or defense at such times.
2. Antiquated Federal and State laws restrict the use of bank reserves and prohibit the lending power of banks at times when, in the presence of unusual demands, reserves should be freely used and credit liberally extended to all deserving customers.
3. Our banks also lack adequate means available for use at any time to replenish their reserves or increase their loaning powers when necessary to meet normal or unusual demands.
4. Of our various forms of currency the bank-note issue is the only one which we might expect to respond to the changing needs of business by automatic expansion and contraction, but this issue is deprived of all such qualities by the fact that its volume is largely dependent upon the amount and price of United States bonds.
5. We lack means to insure such effective co-operation on the part of banks as is necessary to protect their own and the public interests in times of stress or crisis. There is no co-operation of any kind among banks outside the clearing-house cities. While clearing-house organizations of banks have been able to render valuable services within a limited sphere for local communities, the lack of means to secure their co-operation or affiliation in broader fields makes it impossible to use these or similar local agencies to prevent panics or avert calamitous disturbances affecting the country at large. These organizations have, in fact, never been able to prevent the suspension of cash payments by financial institutions in their own localities in cases of emergency.
6. We have no effective agency covering the entire country which affords necessary facilities for making domestic exchanges between different localities and sections, or which can prevent disastrous disruption of all such exchanges in times of serious trouble.
7. We have no instrumentality that can deal effectively with the broad questions which, from an international standpoint, affect the credit and status of the United States as one of the great financial powers of the world. In times of threatened trouble or of actual panic these questions, which involve the course of foreign exchange and the international movements of gold, are even more important to us from a national than from an international standpoint.
8. The lack of commercial paper of an established standard, issued for agricultural, industrial, and commercial purposes, available for investments by banks, leads to an unhealthy congestion of loanable funds in great centers and hinders the development of the productive forces of the country.
9. The narrow character of our discount market, with its limited range of safe and profitable investments for banks, results in sending the surplus money of all sections, in excess of reserves and local demands,
to New York, where it is usually loaned out on call on Stock Exchange. securities, tending to promote dangerous speculation and inevitably leading to injurious disturbances in reserves. This concentration of surplus money and available funds in New York imposes upon the managers of the banks of that city the vast responsibilities which are inherent in the control of a large proportion of the banking resources of the country.
10. The absence of a broad discount market in our system, taken together with the restrictive treatment of reserves, creates at times when serious financial disturbances are anticipated a condition of dependence on the part of individual banks throughout the country, and at the same time places the farmers and others engaged in productive industries at a great disadvantage in securing the credit they require for the growth, retention, and distribution of their products.
11. There is a marked lack of equality in credit facilities between different sections of the country, reflected in less favored communities, in retarded development, and great disparity in rates of discount.
12. Our system lacks an agency whose influence can be made effec tive in securing greater uniformity, steadiness, and reasonableness of rates of discount in all parts of the country.
We have no effective agency that can surely provide adequate banking facilities for different regions promptly and on reasonable terms to meet the ordinary or unusual demands for credit or currency necessary for moving crops or for other legitimate purposes.
14. We have no power to enforce the adoption of uniform standards. with regard to capital, reserves, examinations, and the character and publicity of reports of all banks in the different sections of the country.
We have no American banking institutions in foreign countries. The organization of such banks is necessary for the development of our foreign trade.
16. The provision that national banks shall not make loans upon real estate restricts their power to serve farmers and other borrowers in rural communities.
17. The provision of law under which the Government acts as custodian of its own funds results in irregular withdrawals of money from circulation and bank reserves in periods of excessive Government revenues, and in the return of these funds into circulation only in periods of deficient revenues. Recent efforts to modify the Independent Treasury system by a partial distribution of the public moneys among national banks have resulted, it is charged, in discrimination and favoritism in the treatment of different banks.
Number and Capital of Commercial Banks of the United States, 1867-1909.
From National Monetary Commission Statistics of Banks and Banking in the United States, p. 21.
e Number reporting to Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
d Total number State banks and trust companies reporting capital but not surplus to Commissioner of Internal Revenue in 1880 was 996. (See Comptroller's Report 1880, p. lxxxvi.)
e November 30, 1882: Law imposing tax upon capital and deposits of banks repealed March 3, 1883; no reports from private banks after first-mentioned date until 1887.
1 From special reports of April 28, 1909, obtained for the National Monetary Commission.
Number and Capital of Commercial Banks of the United States,
From the Statistical Abstracts of the United States for Various Years.
The figures for the national banks are for reports near September 1st, each year; for
the other banks, for reports about June 30th of each year.
2 A few states include savings banks and trust companies. A few states do not list separately.
Included in a few States with state banks.