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Inside Washington (02/19/2009)
* WASHINGTON (2/20/09)--Under a housing plan President Barack Obama released Wednesday, government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would receive a larger funding commitment--to $200 billion each--and would assist struggling borrowers refinance loans under them (American Banker Feb. 19). The enterprises had been placed into conservatorship and financial observers say their future may still be uncertain. Robert Litan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, noted that the Obama administration is using the enterprises to help the housing market, which will in turn help financial institutions ... * WASHINGTON (2/20/09)--Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, defended the Fed’s actions to help the struggling economy during a speech at the National Press Club this week (The New York Times Feb. 19). The Fed has, and will continue, to do everything it can to help the nation’s financial stability, he told reporters. Bernanke also said the unemployment rate would likely increase to 8%. The Fed also released projections indicating that the economy is expected to grow 2.5% to 2.7% annually during the next five or six years, and that unemployment would be at about 5% ... * WASHINGTON (2/20/09)--Industry trade groups are urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to move backward on a Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) rule (American Banker Feb. 19). In a letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, the groups said the department and the Federal Reserve Board should band together to make disclosures more effective. RESPA requires that consumers receive disclosures in transactions and outlaws kickbacks that increase settlement service costs. The statute aims to help homebuyers be better shoppers in the home buying process, according to HUD ...


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