When the 72d Congress assembled in December 1931, the country faced grave economic difficulties. President Herbert Hoover had tried to stabilize conditions by persuading bankers to form the National Credit Corporation, which pooled funds to lend to weaker banks. NCC directors proved reluctant to disburse much money, and by December 22 only $15 million had reached banks. Hoover realized that further aid was essential to prevent collapse of the banking system. As he had promised New York bankers in October, his annual message to Congress recommended broadening the definition of paper eligible for discount at reserve banks and establishing a government finance corporation to lend to banks and railroads. He also proposed that Congress investigate the desirability of expanding branch banking, increasing membership in the Federal Reserve System, and separating commercial, savings, and investment banking. 1