Inapplicability of amount limitations to “ineligible acceptances.”
Since 1923, the Board has been of the view that “the acceptance power of State member banks is not necessarily confined to the provisions of section 13 (of the Federal Reserve Act), inasmuch as the laws of many States confer broader acceptance powers upon their State banks, and certain State member banks may, therefore, legally make acceptances of kinds which are not eligible for rediscount, but which may be eligible for purchase by Federal reserve banks under section 14.” 1923 FR bulletin 316, 317.
In 1963, the Comptroller of the Currency ruled that “[n]ational banks are not limited in the character of acceptances which they may make in financing credit transactions, and bankers' acceptances may be used for such purpose, since the making of acceptances is an essential part of banking authorized by 12 U.S.C. 24.” Comptroller's manual 7.7420. Therefore, national banks are authorized by the Comptroller to make acceptances under 12 U.S.C. 24, although the acceptances are not the type described in section 13 of the Federal Reserve Act.
A review of the legislative history surrounding the enactment of the acceptance provisions of section 13, reveals that Congress believed in 1913, that it was granting to national banks a power which they would not otherwise possess and had not previously possessed. See remarks of Congressmen Phelan, Helvering, Saunders, and Glass, 51 Cong. Rec. 4676, 4798, 4885, and 5064 (September 10, 12, 13, and 17 of 1913). Nevertheless, the courts have long recognized the evolutionary nature of banking and of the scope of the “incidental powers” clause of 12 U.S.C. 24. See Merchants Bank v. State Bank, 77 U.S. 604 (1870) (upholding the power of a national bank to certify a check under the “incidental powers” clause of 12 U.S.C. 24 ).
It now appears that, based on the Board's 1923 ruling, and the Comptroller's 1963 ruling, both State member banks and national banks may make acceptances which are not of the type described in section 13 of the Federal Reserve Act. Yet, this appears to be a development that Congress did not contemplate when it drafted the acceptance provisions of section 13.
The question is presented whether the amount limitations of section 13 should apply to acceptances made by a member bank that are not of the type described in section 13. (The amount limitations are of two kinds:
A limitation on the amount that may be accepted for any one customer, and
A limitation on the aggregate amount of acceptances that a member bank may make.)
In interpreting any Federal statutory provision, the primary guide is the intent of Congress, yet, as noted earlier, Congress did not contemplate in 1913, the development of so-called “ineligible acceptances.” (Although there is some indication that Congress did contemplate State member banks' making acceptances of a type not described in section 13 [remarks of Congressman Glass, 51 Cong. Rec. 5064], the primary focus of congressional attention was on the acceptance powers of national banks.) In the absence of an indication of congressional intent, we are left to reach an interpretation that is in harmony with the language of the statutory provisions and with the purposes of the Federal Reserve Act.
Section 13 authorizes acceptances of two types. The seventh paragraph of section 13 (12 U.S.C. 372) authorizes certain acceptances that arise out of specific transactions in goods. (These acceptances are sometimes referred to as “commercial acceptances.”) The 12th paragraph of section 13 authorizes member banks to make acceptances “for the purpose of furnishing dollar exchange as required by the usages of trade” in foreign transactions. (Such acceptances are referred to as “dollar exchange acceptances.”) In the 12th paragraph, there is a 10 percent limit on the amount of dollar exchange acceptances that may be accepted for any one customer (unless adequately secured) and a limitation on the aggregate amount of dollar exchange acceptances that a member bank may make. (The 12th paragraph, in imposing these limitations, refers to the acceptance of “such drafts or bills of exchange referred to (in) this paragraph.”) Similarly, the seventh paragraph imposes on commercial acceptances a parallel 10 percent per-customer limitation, and limitations on the aggregate amount of commercial acceptances. (In the case of the aggregate limitations, the seventh paragraph states that “no bank shall accept such bills to an amount” in excess of the aggregate limit; the reference to “such bills” makes clear that the limitation is only in respect of drafts or bills of exchange of the specific type described in the seventh paragraph.)
Based on the language and parallel structure of the 7th and 12th paragraphs of section 13, and in the absence of a statement of congressional intent in the legislative history, the Board concludes that the per-customer and aggregate limitations of the 12th paragraph apply only to acceptances of the type described in that paragraph (dollar exchange acceptances), and the per-customer and aggregate limitations of the 7th paragraph (12 U.S.C. 372) apply only to acceptances of the type described in that paragraph.
(Interprets and applies
12 U.S.C. 372
and the 12th paragraph of sec. 13 of the Federal Reserve Act, which paragraph is omitted from the United States Code)
[38 FR 13728, May 25, 1973]