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Under the McCarran-Ferguson Act, the antimonopoly Torahs are unsuitable to activities representing the “ concern of insurance ” but merely “ to the extent that such concern is non regulated by State jurisprudence, ” and provided that the challenged activity is non “ boycott, coercion, or bullying. ”[ 2 ]When an insurance company invokes the protections afforded by the McCarran-Ferguson freedom, the tribunals must find that the federal legislative act involved “ specifically relates to the concern of insurance. ”[ 3 ]If it does non, the tribunal so considers whether the activity in inquiry is within the “ concern of insurance ” ; and if so, whether application of federal legislative act would “ annul, impair or supersede ” province jurisprudence.[ 4 ]

The McCarran-Ferguson Act, nevertheless, does non specify the “ concern of insurance. ” The tribunals have analyzed three factors when finding whether a peculiar pattern constitutes the “ concern of insurance. ” In Pireno, the tribunal analyzed: “ foremost, whether the pattern has the consequence of reassigning or distributing a policyholder ‘s hazard ; 2nd, whether the pattern is an built-in portion of the policy relationship between the insurance company and the insured ; and 3rd, whether the pattern is limited to entities within the insurance industry. ”[ 5 ]

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Interpretation of what constitutes “ the concern of insurance ” is non limited to judicial sentiments. Harmonizing to a study from the Government Accountability Office ( “ GAO ” ) , the concern of insurance entails: jointly puting agent committee rates ; repairing rates pursuant to joint understandings and evaluations boards ; sorting and re-classifying hazards ; holding to pay harm claims based on agreed-upon labour rates ; restricting or declining to offer certain types of coverage ; and, jointly set abouting activities to restrict hazards – including by revising policy linguistic communication.[ 6 ]

The McCarran-Ferguson freedom has been judicially narrowed over the past 60 old ages.[ 7 ]Courts have distinguished between the general federal regulative freedom of the McCarran-Ferguson Act and the separate freedom for the federal antimonopoly statute law.[ 8 ]Cases affecting the pertinence of the Sherman Act to insurance patterns regulated by the provinces take a narrower attack to the phrase “ concern of insurance ” and use the three standards laid out in the Pireno instance.[ 9 ]

However, it is of import to observe that a tribunal has held that even if a challenged pattern constitutes the concern of insurance and is regulated by the provinces, measure uping the pattern as exempt from antimonopoly liability, the freedom is forfeited if the pattern involves a 3rd party outside the insurance industry.[ 10 ]The tribunal in Royal Drug held, “ an exempt entity forfeits [ its ] antimonopoly freedom by moving in concert with taxable parties. ”[ 11 ]

D. Judicial Interpretations – What does it intend to be Regulated by the provinces?

Section 2 ( B ) of the McCarran Act makes the Sherman, Clayton, and Federal Trade Commission Acts applicable to the concern of insurance “ to the extent that such concern is non regulated by State jurisprudence. ”[ 12 ]Some have concluded that the McCarran-Ferguson Act should be construed to necessitate equal and effectual province ordinance before insurance is exempt from the antimonopoly legislative acts.[ 13 ]

The federal tribunals, nevertheless, have repeatedly allowed the freedom to use upon a screening that “ a State legislative act by and large proscribes or permits or authorizes certain behavior on the portion of insurance companies. ”[ 14 ]Furthermore, the Supreme Court has declined to make up one’s mind whether the quality of province ordinance should be relevant under subdivision 2 ( B ) .[ 15 ]

In add-on to the province statute law modulating insurance companies, all 50 provinces have some type of province antimonopoly legislative act.[ 16 ]The States are non unvarying in their antimonopoly examination. Some States follow Federal jurisprudence, others exempt insurance from State antimonopoly jurisprudence to some extent, and still others have no freedom at all.[ 17 ]

There are some inquiries whether the provinces are effectual at modulating insurance companies through their antimonopoly legislative acts. A 2005 New York-led probe of several big national insurance houses, including AIG, uncovered extended bid-rigging, collusion, and other anticompetitive patterns.[ 18 ]

However, “ [ T ] his is non merely New York State ‘s job, it is a permeant national job. ”[ 19 ]In many provinces, the insurance committee does non hold the capacity to modulate or prosecute any anticompetive behaviour by insurance companies. A 2009 Center for American Progress study of actions by province insurance commissioners found merely limited and sporadic enforcement by province insurance commissioners.[ 20 ]In add-on, there were no antimonopoly actions brought by province insurance commissioners.[ 21 ]

Furthermore, the provinces ‘ limited legal power makes it hard to efficaciously modulate an international insurance company. One such insurance company that may non hold been as efficaciously regulated as possible is AIG.

The AIG Crisis: Excessively Big to Fail?

AIG is a big, complex insurance and fiscal services pudding stone with concern lines crossing from general and life insurance to complex fiscal minutess.[ 22 ]AIG ‘s roots can be traced back to 1919 when Cornelius Vander ( CV ) Starr founded an insurance bureau, American Asiatic Underwriters ( “ AAU ” ) in Shanghai, China.[ 23 ]What started as a chiefly international based company finally came to the United States when American International Underwriters ( “ AIU ” ) was opened in New York in 1926, and the AAU central offices were moved at that place in 1939.[ 24 ]Through a series of acquisitions, AIU finally became American Home, M.R. “ Hank ” Greenberg was appointed president, and AIG was officially formed in 1967.[ 25 ]

AIG Mergers and Acquisitions: From Insurance Giant to Multinational Financial King

Under Hank Greenberg, AIG continued to do assorted acquisitions, spread outing its presence both nationally and internationally.[ 26 ]Since 1960, AIG has participated in “ nine large [ amalgamations ] . ”[ 27 ]Because AIG is an insurance company, and as discussed above is exempt from federal antimonopoly inadvertence, their legion big amalgamations and acquisitions were non capable to “ serious amalgamation reappraisal, ” which is undertaken to halt anticompetitive monopolies from being formed.[ 28 ]

Section 7 of the Clayton Act aims to control anticompetitive amalgamations.[ 29 ]As discussed above, insurance companies are non capable to federal inadvertence, when there is a province jurisprudence that would modulate the concern of insurance. While there is no clear counsel on whether the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Acts use to insurance, the “ safest premise is that insurance amalgamations are capable to. . . the substantial prohibitions of the antimonopoly Torahs.[ 30 ]

However, at one clip it was believed that, even in the absence of the antimonopoly freedom, “ [ m ] ost insurance amalgamations should last examination. . . because most insurance markets are unconcentrated. ”[ 31 ]However, this rule seems to merely use to horizontal amalgamations, or amalgamations between direct rivals.

During this clip of enlargement and for about 80 old ages, AIG was entirely involved in the insurance concern. However, two of AIG ‘s major amalgamations and acquisitions moved AIG from being a “ successful, rock-solid commercial belongings and casualty insurance company ” to a big fiscal pudding stone.[ 32 ]In the instance of the AIG amalgamations and acquisitions, they would be considered perpendicular amalgamations, which tend to non pull the attending of the antimonopoly hatchet mans, despite altering the built-in nature of the concern.[ 33 ]

In 1998, AIG acquired SunAmerica, a big fiscal house that specialized in retirement nest eggs.[ 34 ]In December 1999, AIG farther ventured into fiscal services and became a thrift keeping company, when the Office of Thrift Supervision ( “ OTS ” ) approved its application to rent AIG Bank.[ 35 ]In 2001, AIG purchased American General, an tremendous life insurance company and consumer loan company.[ 36 ]

AIG was no longer entirely an insurance company ; it was a planetary fiscal giant that offered merchandises far outside the range of the concern of insurance.[ 37 ]These two acquisitions and entry into banking greatly changed the construction and operations of AIG.

One such structural alteration was that AIG now owned a thrift keeping company, AIG Bank, and it could elect to hold OTS as its regulator.[ 38 ]Under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999[ 39 ], certain companies could elect to be regulated by the OTS, provided they owned at least one thrift, or savings-and-loan.[ 40 ]With the creative activity of AIG Bank, AIG was utilizing a loop hole in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to further spread out its concern lines, under the supervising of OTS.[ 41 ]

OTS ‘s oversight responsibilities expanded when European regulators in January 2007 conferred upon OTS the authorization to oversee the company ‘s abroad operations, including AIG Financial Products ( AIGFP ) , a London-based subordinate.[ 42 ]

AIGFP: Investing in Credit Default Swaps and the Beginning of the Collapse

AIGFP was founded as a joint venture in 1987 by three former Wall Street bargainers who had experience in derivative trades.[ 43 ]In 1993, the joint venture ended, and AIG operated AIGFP as a to the full owned subordinate.[ 44 ]What AIGFP aimed to make was help investing Bankss, authoritiess, municipalities and corporations in inventing “ methods to liberate up hard currency, get rid of debt, and guard against lifting involvement rates or currency fluctuations. ”[ 45 ]

AIGFP used the AAA recognition evaluation[ 46 ]of AIG to come in into these derivative minutess.[ 47 ]Because AIG was rated AAA, it did non hold to post as much collateral on the derivative contracts it wrote, which made them much more profitable.[ 48 ]By 1998, AIGFP had one-year gross of $ 500 million.[ 49 ]

That same twelvemonth, JP Morgan approached AIG and proposed that they insure JP Morgan ‘s complex corporate debt.[ 50 ]With this, AIGFP foremost began to prosecute in recognition default barters.[ 51 ]AIG believed that they would ne’er hold to pay out on the trades, as the company ne’er expected that JP Morgan would default, unless there was a matured depression.[ 52 ]And even in that case, it was believed that all counter-parties would be eliminated every bit good, and no 1 would be demanding payment.[ 53 ]

However in 2005, following an probe by the New York Attorney General, CEO Hank Greenberg departed AIG.[ 54 ]In response to Greenberg ‘s going, every bit good as the NY province probe into AIG ‘s questionable concern patterns, the recognition evaluation bureaus downgraded AIG ‘s evaluation from AAA to AA.[ 55 ]This downgrade triggered commissariats in some of the recognition default barters AIGFP had entered into, doing AIGFP to owe $ 1 billion in collateral payments.[ 56 ]

After this, AIGFP realized that the bulk of its $ 80 billion of debt duties were tied to sub-prime mortgage ; the hazard of default would be high if the lodging market would fall in.[ 57 ]By summer 2007, the lodging market had begun to fall in, and certain counter-parties began to demand collateral to cover the securities that the recognition default barters had insured.[ 58 ]

On September 16, 2008, AIG ‘s recognition evaluation was traveling to be downgraded once more.[ 59 ]When its recognition evaluation was downgraded farther, AIG was required to post extra collateral with its trading counter-parties, and this led to a liquidness crisis.[ 60 ]AIG could non cover the calls for collateral made by its counterparties.

The insurance industry giant that was hailed as “ excessively large to neglect ” was on the threshold of a prostration that could hold caused a ripple consequence on their counterparties.[ 61 ]The following twenty-four hours, the United States Federal Reserve Bank announced the creative activity of a secured recognition line of $ 85 billion to forestall the prostration of AIG.[ 62 ]

At the clip of AIG ‘s near prostration, many were stating that the lodging prostration was the cause of the crisis.[ 63 ]However, had it non been for the “ intricate fiscal contracts known as recognition default barters, ” the system may non hold been as vulnerable.[ 64 ]As the primary regulator of AIGFP, OTS was responsible for modulating the high hazard recognition default barters.[ 65 ]

However, in the yearss and hebdomads that followed the close prostration and subsequent bailout, most intelligence mercantile establishments did non advert the failure of OTS to properly supervise AIG ‘s usage of recognition default barters.[ 66 ]

It was n’t until a Congressional Hearing in March 2009 that OTS eventually stepped up and accepted incrimination for the meltdown. In testimony, interim manager of OTS Scott Polakoff stated that “ [ I ] T ‘s clip for the OTS to raise their manus and say they have some duty and answerability here. We were deemed an acceptable regulator for both U.S. and domestic and international operations. ”[ 67 ]However, it is clear that even though OTS was deemed an acceptable regulator, their inadvertence was missing.

AIGI: The Other Side of the Coin: Securities Lending

While AIGFP was covering in hazardous derived functions under the evident inadvertence of OTS, the insurance units of AIG were involved in securities loaning by AIG Investments ( “ AIGI ” ) .[ 68 ]AIG ‘s securities loaning pattern was “ the plan whereby AIG Lent securities held by its life insurance subordinates to fudge financess which in bend shorted the stock. ”[ 69 ]A AIG invested the money it received from those securities and invested in high hazard mortgage backed derivative instruments.[ 70 ]

The Federal Reserve and other regulators typically see securities imparting as a “ concern with few hazards. ”[ 71 ]However, like AIGFP, AIGI ‘s securities loaning pattern had a big exposure to subprime mortgage related assets. State regulative filings show that the securities imparting units used about two tierces of its $ 78 billion in hard currency collateral to purchase mortgage backed securities.[ 72 ]

In September 2008, at the same clip as AIGFP was enduring its ain jobs, borrowers in the securities imparting plan wanted a return of their hard currency collateral.[ 73 ]“ Because of the illiquidity in the market for [ mortgage backed securities ] , they could non be sold at acceptable monetary values, and AIG was forced to happen alternate beginnings of hard currency to run into these petitions. ”[ 74 ]The Federal Reserve Bank of New York made available $ 44 billion to assist decide the securities imparting plan.[ 75 ]

Unlike the AIGFP recognition default barters which were regulated by OTS, the AIGI securities imparting plan was regulated by the State insurance regulators.[ 76 ]Even after AIG had about imploded, had it non been for the injection of hard currency from the Fed and from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the province regulators still did n’t hold that the securities loaning pattern needed to be better regulated.[ 77 ]In add-on, the province regulators insisted that it was merely AIGFP which attributed to the near-collapse of AIG.[ 78 ]

Even in a March 15, 2009 release which detailed the payments AIG made to its counterparties, $ 66 billion went to AIGFP ( about $ 54 billion of which is related to the recognition default barters ) ; but the province regulated insurance concerns lost about $ 43.7 billion in losingss on securities imparting minutess.[ 79 ]That same month, Joel Ario, the insurance commissioner of Pennsylvania, wanted to “ clear up the difference between the fiscal merchandises which are regulated — to the extent it was regulated at all, by the federal authorities — and the insurance companies which are regulated by, we think, a really effectual state-based regulative system. ”[ 80 ]

Further, Eric Dinallo, Insurance Commissioner for the State of New York, stated “ AIG securities ‘ loaning was consolidated by the keeping company at a particular unit it set up and controlled. This particular unit was non a accredited insurance company. As with some other keeping company activities, it was pursued sharply instead than providentially. ”[ 81 ]

By the way, the Texas Department of Insurance acknowledged the securities loaning pattern and the investings in hazardous mortgage related securities. Harmonizing to an analyst, the Texas Department of Insurance was “ cognizant of this portfolio, but. . . did n’t hold transparence on what was in it because it was off-balance sheet in the company ‘s statutory accounting studies. ”[ 82 ]

State regulators were rapidly recognizing the extent of AIG ‘s liquidness crisis were beyond province regulators ‘ ability to manage suitably.[ 83 ]Both the provinces and the federal authorities were limited in their ability to efficaciously modulate AIG.

Solutions to the Problem: Repeal McCarran Ferguson and/or Federal Regulation

Throughout the old ages, there have been many efforts to amend or revoke the McCarran-Ferguson Act. However, past proposals to reassign regulative authorization back to the federal authorities have been successfully opposed by the provinces and the insurance industry.[ 84 ]

These past proposals were directed at rectifying “ sensed lacks in province ordinance. ”[ 85 ]However, they failed due to “ pledges from province regulators to work for more uniformity and efficiency ” in the province regulative procedure.[ 86 ]

Repeal McCarran-Ferguson – Application of Sherman & A ; Clayton Acts

A major attempt towards passing the regulative construction of insurance companies began in the mid-1980 ‘s.[ 87 ]Several hearings were held and proposals were made to make a federal regulative organic structure modeled after the Securities and Exchange Commission ( “ SEC ” ) .[ 88 ]Again, the provinces and the insurance industry instituted reforms for new criterions, and federal ordinance was defeated.

After the province attending to establishing reforms, Congress ‘ general attending on insurance regulative affairs decreased during the 2nd half of the 1990 ‘s. However, in more recent Sessionss, Congress has begun to may more attending to measuring the regulative construction of insurance.[ 89 ]From the 107th through the hundred-and-tenth Congresses, the House Financial Services Committee held several hearings at both the subcommittee and full commission degrees on insurance affairs, several of these covering with amending or revoking the McCarran Ferguson Act.[ 90 ]

In 2005, the Insurance Competitive Pricing Act ( “ ICPA ” ) was introduced.[ 91 ]The ICPA did non progress a entire abrogation of McCarran-Ferguson ; it would keep an freedom from federal antimonopoly Torahs for the concern of insurance, as regulated by the States, except for monetary value repair, market allotment, binding agreements or monopolisation.[ 92 ]

The National Insurance Act of 2006[ 93 ]( “ NIA ” ) introduced by Senator John Sununu provided for a full abrogation of McCarran-Ferguson antimonopoly unsusceptibility, every bit good as reassigning insurance ordinance from the provinces to the federal authorities.[ 94 ]The attack taken under the NIA is that insurance is an interstate, every bit good as international, endeavor and province ordinance is inefficient and uneffective.[ 95 ]

National insurance companies would lose their antimonopoly freedom under the McCarran-Ferguson Act except for an of import safe seaport. The new freedom would protect:

the development, airing, or usage of standard insurance policy signifiers ( including standard indorsements, supplements, and policy linguistic communication ) , or to activities incidental thereto, by National Insurers, National Agencies, and federally accredited insurance manufacturers.[ 96 ]

In 2009, the Insurance Industry Competition Act ( IICA ) was besides introduced to to the full revoke the McCarran-Ferguson Act.[ 97 ]The IICA would revoke the freedom and give the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission the authorization to use the antimonopoly Torahs to anticompetitive behaviour by insurance companies.[ 98 ]However, the IICA would non impact the ability of each province to modulate insurance.[ 99 ]However, like NICPA and NIA, IICA ne’er made it out of commission hearings and a full ballot was non held.[ 100 ]

As of this writingPowrie, Erin2010-08-09T11:52:00

Find out where the wellness attention measure that was passed discussed McCarran-Ferguson. , there are three pending steps to modify the antimonopoly freedom under the McCarran-Ferguson Act.[ 101 ]However, unlike past efforts to revoke or modify McCarran-Ferguson, this statute law is targeted merely to wellness and medical malpractice insurance.[ 102 ]

A full abrogation of the McCarran-Ferguson Act is non supported by many, claiming that province jurisprudence already adequately regulates insurance. As the Iowa insurance commissioner, Susan Voss, testified, “ [ R ] epeal [ of McCarran-Ferguson ] hazards transforming certain insurance patterns that help consumers, promote fight, and strengthen markets, into actionable misdemeanors of federal antimonopoly jurisprudence. ”[ 103 ]

In add-on, many claim that the McCarran-Ferguson freedom allows insurance companies to portion informations, which is needed by little insurance companies, who would be unable to efficaciously vie.[ 104 ]However, the Antitrust Modernization Commission, which specifically looked into the McCarran-Ferguson Acts freedom, stated that, in the event of a abrogation of the unsusceptibility, “ such informations sharing would be assessed by antimonopoly hatchet mans. ”[ 105 ]

Federal Regulation: Creation of National Federal Charter

In add-on to extinguishing or modifying federal antimonopoly unsusceptibility, a figure of wide proposals for some signifier of national federal charter or other federal regulative inadvertence in insurance were introduced in both houses of Congress, but none made it to Committee for farther treatment. For illustration, the NIA introduced in 2006 and 2007 provided for an optional federal charter for insurance, and those insurance companies choosing to fall under the federal charter would be regulated by a freshly created federal insurance regulative authorization from within the Treasury Department, alternatively of by the States.[ 106 ]

In add-on, the National Insurance Consumer Protection Act ( NICPA ) was re-introduced in 2009 by Representatives Royce and Bean.[ 107 ]NICPA would set up an Office of National Insurance within the Treasury Department, which would be headed by a National Insurance Commissioner.[ 108 ]While NICPA did non straight address the abrogation of the McCarran-Ferguson Act and the re-application of the federal antimonopoly Torahs, it required that an insurance company provide prior notice to the National Insurance Commissioner to set up or get a subordinate.[ 109 ]However, NICPA ne’er made it out of commission.[ 110 ]

As proposed in NICPA, among others, Congress has considered statute law that would authorise an “ optional ” federal charter ( “ OFC ” ) , alternatively of revoking the McCarran-Ferguson freedom. In add-on, in 2008 the Treasury Department issued a Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure, wherein the Treasury recommended the constitution of a federal insurance regulative construction to supply for the creative activity of an OFC.[ 111 ]This OFC would let insurance companies to take between the current state-based regulative system and a individual federal regulative bureau.[ 112 ]

The basic design of the OFC that has been proposed is similar to that of the regulative system that has governed the banking industry.[ 113 ]The benefits of the proposed OFC include efficiency and competitory pricing.[ 114 ]In add-on, “ making an OFC would put the insurance industry on the same regulative terms as other fiscal industries modernized under the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. ”[ 115 ]

However, non all parties involved think that federal insurance ordinance is appropriate. Therese Vaughn, the CEO of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has stated “ [ T ] he state-based insurance regulative system is one of critical cheques and balances, where the hazards of a individual point of failure and almighty determination devising are eliminated. ”[ 116 ]Michael McRaith, the Illinois Director of Insurance believes the optional federal charter is “ a solution in hunt of a job. ”[ 117 ]

Furthermore, the recent fiscal convulsion among major insurance companies such as AIG is grounds that possibly the clip has come to reassess the creative activity of a individual federal insurance regulator. The proposals advanced therefore far have merely recommended an optional federal charter.[ 118 ]Given that so many insurance houses, such as AIG, have moved beyond merely being insurance companies, that they are now considered “ systemically of import fiscal establishments, ” federal regulative inadvertence is necessary.[ 119 ]


When a U.S. corporation is “ excessively large to neglect ” something is awfully incorrect. By the terminal of 2007, AIG had about $ 1 trillion in amalgamate assets and operated in over 130 states.[ 120 ]The industry giant has more than 71 insurance companies and over 175 other fiscal services companies.[ 121 ]The 71 insurance companies are monitored by each of the 50 provinces insurance regulators where it was licensed to run.[ 122 ]

As such, there is no 1 insurance regulator or federal regulative responsible for AIG ‘s insurance activities. Despite its immense planetary presence, AIG ‘s fiscal merchandises units were entirely regulated by OTS.[ 123 ]As a consequence of the subprime lodging crisis, attending was drawn to both the province and federal regulators and their evident deficiency of cognition of the extent of AIG ‘s engagement.

As discussed in item above, the freedom from antimonopoly enforcement within the McCarran-Ferguson Act permitted insurance companies to prosecute in some anti-competitive behaviour.[ 124 ]However, it is clear that times have changed since the jurisprudence was foremost enacted in 1945.

When the antimonopoly Torahs were foremost enacted, the biggest menace to our state ‘s economic system was monopolies.[ 125 ]In 1945 when the McCarran-Ferguson Act was enacted, the menace of “ boycott, coercion and bullying ” by insurance companies warranted sufficient attending that these three Acts of the Apostless were still governed by federal antimonopoly Torahs.[ 126 ]

However, today, the biggest concern should be the consequence of the failure of any “ systemically of import fiscal establishments ” on our state ‘s economic system, and how to maintain companies from acquiring so “ systemically of import ” to get down with.[ 127 ]One such “ systemically of import fiscal establishment ” was able to short-circuit federal antimonopoly reappraisal with its many amalgamations and acquisitions, by virtuousness of the McCarran-Ferguson Antitrust Exemption, combined with deficient province and federal regulative inadvertence.

Furthermore, for those insurance companies, such as AIG, that have become “ excessively large to neglect, ” a regulative system that advances a mandatory regulator, or national federal charter, to guarantee that any possible failure is eliminated, is imperative. The provinces have proven ill-equipped to cover with an international endeavor.

When we are told that any corporation is “ excessively large to neglect ” or that it “ can non travel through bankruptcy proceedings because it would lay waste to our national economic system, ” something demands to alter. As Representative Peter DeFazio stated, “ AIG was chancing with people ‘s life nest eggs and lost it all excessively bad and fly-by-night minutess and contributed to the current crisis. We must see this ne’er happens once more. ”[ 128 ]To make so, it is due clip for the McCarran-Ferguson Act to be repealed, for insurance companies to be under full federal antimonopoly examination, and for a more unvarying regulative system, get downing with a national federal charter.

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