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Inside Washington (01/31/2011)
* WASHINGTON (2/1/11)--The White House’s withdrawal of Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) director nominee Joseph Smith’s name is an indication of difficulties for an administration with numerous regulatory posts to fill, according to observers(American Banker) Jan. 31). Opposition to Smith’s nomination came as a surprise to some. But Senate Democrats did not schedule a confirmation vote after Senate Banking Committee Republicans, including ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), voiced opposition to the North Carolina bank commissioner. Republicans have since gained seats in both chambers of Congress, raising questions about future administration nominees for the FHFA post and other agencies. Also at stake is the future of government sponsored enterprises (GSEs). Some sources indicated Smith would side too closely with the Obama administration on the future of the GSEs. Republicans have taken issue with the taxpayer costs associated with the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Joseph Engelhard, a senior vice president with Capital Alpha Partners, disputed the notion that Republicans would reject any nominee the Obama administration would choose … WASHINGTON (2/1/11)--The Federal Reserve Board of Governors’ January Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey on Bank Lending Practices addressed changes in the supply and demand for bank loans to businesses and households the past three months. Overall, the survey indicated that a modest number of banks continued to ease standards and terms for commercial and industrial (C&I) loans during the fourth quarter, while banks reported small mixed changes in their lending policies for other types of loans to businesses and households. Similarly, the respondents reported a moderate increase in demand for C&I loans but little change in demand for other types of loans. Survey respondents, particularly large banks, reported easing standards and most terms on C&I loans, especially to large and middle-market firms. Banks pointed to a more favorable or less uncertain economic outlook and increased competition from other banks or nonbank lenders as reasons for easing. Changes in standards and terms on loans to households were small and mixed. Banks again reported more willingness to make consumer installment loans, and a small fraction of respondents reported easing standards for approving consumer credit card applications. However, a few banks reported tightening terms on, or reducing the sizes of credit lines on existing consumer credit card accounts. Some banks reported having tightened standards on nontraditional residential mortgage loans, while others reported little change in standards on prime residential mortgage loans or home equity lines of credit … * WASHINGTON (2/1/11)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced Monday it is consolidating its three offices here into a single location at Constitution Center, 400 Seventh St., SW. The FHFA was created in 2008 by merging the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the Federal Housing Finance Board, and staff from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development The new, single location is intended to improve efficiency, and allow for expansion in, and greater integration of, FHFA’s examination and supervisory personnel and programs … WASHINGTON (2/1/11)--Republication lawmakers announced legislation last Friday to repeal the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) (American Banker) Jan. 31). Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and his colleagues said the Treasury Department’s program to help troubled borrowers avoid foreclosure has been “a colossal failure.” HAMP is intended to offer homeowners facing foreclosure help by reducing monthly payments to sustainable levels, according to the Treasury Department. Despite record levels of new foreclosures--2.9 million in 2010 and a projected 3 million in 2011--as of Dec. 21 only 522,000 homes were still in the program undergoing permanent modification. More than 792,000 trial modifications have been cancelled, and 152,000 trial modifications have yet to be upgraded to permanent status …


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