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Federal charters get push from N.Y. leaders


NEW YORK--The creation of optional federal charters for insurers should be a priority in enhancing the competitive ability of "the entire financial services sector," according to a report released by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

The report, "Sustaining New York's and the U.S.' Global Financial Services Leadership," prepared by McKinsey & Co., examined trends that could hamper New York's and the nation's ability to maintain its status as the world's pre-eminent financial leaders.

One recommendation was allowing insurers to seek federal rather than state charters. The new optional federal charters should be "based on market principles for serving customers," according to the report.

"This kind of meaningful reform of the domestic financial services sector--including property/casualty insurance regulation--is critically important to our nation's continued economic vitality," said Marc Racicot, president of the Washington-based American Insurance Assn., in a statement hailing the report's recommendation.

"This new report's recognition that many shortcomings in the state-based insurance regulatory system--particularly those stifling competition and innovation--are hurting insurance companies and consumers, and it highlights an important aspect of the debate about how best to modernize insurance regulation," Mr. Racicot added in his statement.