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Inside Washington (02/17/2011)
* WASHINGTON (2/18/11)--The Federal Reserve’s Consumer Advisory Council will hold its next meeting on March 10. The meeting will take place in Dining Room E, Terrace Level, in the Fed Board’s Martin Building. The session will begin at 9 a.m. ET and is open to the public. For security purposes, anyone planning to attend the meeting should register no later than March 8, by completing the form found online. Time permitting, the council will discuss foreclosure issues, neighborhood stabilization and real-estate owned issues, and proposed rules regarding debit card interchange fees and routing. The Board's notice can be viewed online … * WASHINGTON (2/18/11)--Small businesses facing maturity of commercial mortgages or balloon payments before Dec. 31, 2012, may be able to refinance their mortgage debt with a 504 loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) under a new, temporary program announced Thursday. The new refinancing loan is structured like SBA’s traditional 504, with borrowers committing at least 10% equity and working with third-party lending institutions and SBA-approved certified development companies in the standard 50% /40% split. A key feature of the new program is that it does not require an expansion of the business in order to qualify. SBA will begin accepting refinancing applications on Feb. 28. The program, authorized under the Small Business Jobs Act, will be in effect through Sept. 27, 2012. The SBA initially will open the program to businesses with immediate need due to impending balloon payments before Dec. 31, 2012. SBA will revisit the program later and may open it to businesses with balloon payments due after that date or those that can demonstrate strong need in other ways … * WASHINGTON (2/18/11)--A House Financial Services Committee hearing Wednesday on the inconclusive Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) report, like the report itself, was fractured along party lines. Republicans on the House committee criticized the panel for not reaching consensus on its findings (American Banker Feb. 17). But the chairman of the FCIC, Phil Angelides (D-Calif.) defended the report. Only the six Democrats on the 10-member panel supported the findings, which cast blame among regulators, corporate executives and consumers for the crisis. The majority report concluded that human error was to blame. It faulted to some degree virtually every actor, including financial institutions, regulators and investors; products that encouraged unsustainable homeownership levels; the credit bubble; and circumstances like excessive leveraging and risk concentration. But the commission published three reports: one written by the Democratic commissioners, a second written by three Republican commissioners, and a third by the fourth Republican commissioner. Republicans questioned why the commission issued three reports, asking if GOP perspectives had been left out of the process … * WASHINGTON (2/18/11)--Federal banking agencies will level formal enforcement actions against several large servicing companies after finding deficiencies during a regulatory review of mortgage servicer practices, (American Banker Feb. 17). Of the 14 mortgage servicers reviewed by regulators after foreclosure problems surfaced in the media last year, most if not all are expected to be charged. Bank regulators are investigating bank servicers in the wake of revelations about foreclosure-documentation errors at big banks and a stalled application process for many troubled borrowers seeking to modify their mortgages. Though the orders would effectively establish de facto standards for the largest servicers, they are not expected to replace efforts by agencies to issue a formal set of servicing rules. Regulators are still divided on how to set such standards …


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