In previous chapters reference has been made at different places to the terms and operations of various features of the Federal reserve system. We shall now try to summarize the new law as a phole, point out its most important features, and indicate the most important changes thus introduced into our currency and banking system.
The Federal Reserve Act provides for the division of the United States into from eight to twelve districts by the Organization Committee, composed of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Comptroller of the Currency, each district to have one Federal reserve bank to be located by the said committee. Each reserve bank is to have a capital of not less than $4,000,000. Every national bank must, and state banks and trust companies may, subscribe to the capital of the Federal reserve bank in their district to an amount equal to 6 per cent of their own capital and surplus, payable one-sixth at the call of the organization committee or the Federal Reserve Board, one-sixth within three months, and one-sixth within six months, the balance being subject to call. National banks failing to accept the terms of the Act within sixty days after notice lose the right to act as reserve agents and any bank which fails to become a member bank or to comply with the provisions of the Act within one year, forfeits its charter. If the stock subscriptions of banks in any district be insufficient to provide the minimum capital required, stock may be offered to the public, no single private subscription to exceed $25,000, and should the total subscriptions of banks and public be insufficient the balance needed is to be allotted to the United States, to be paid for out of treasury funds. The capital stock of each Federal reserve bank may be increased as member banks increase their capital or as additional banks become members, and may be decreased as member banks reduce their capital or surplus or cease to be members. The Act provides for the conversion of state banks into national banks if the state law permits such conversion. Membership is not confined to national banks, but any bank incorporated by special law of any state or organized under the general laws of any state or of the United States may become a member of a Federal reserve bank by meeting substantially the same requirements as apply to national banks. Every such state bank before being admitted is required to conform to the law "imposed on the national banks respecting the limitation of liability which may be incurred by any person, firm or corporation to such banks, the prohibition against making purchases of or loans on stock of such banks, and the withdrawal or impairment of capital, or the payment of unearned dividends, and to such rules and regulations as the Federal Reserve Board may, in pursuance thereof, prescribe." It must also have a paid-up unimpaired capital sufficient to entitle it to become a national bank in the place where it is located; it must comply with the reserve and capital requirements, and submit to the examination and regulations prescribed by the Federal Reserve Board; and it must make reports of condition and of dividend payments to the Comptroller of the Currency.