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Inside Washington (04/16/2009)
* WASHINGTON (4/17/09)--Bankers indicate that they are most concerned with the overall economy and the effect of increasing premiums on Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)-insured institutions, according to the FDIC’s Ombudsman Report to the Industry, released Wednesday. The report covers July 1, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2008. About 643 bankers contacted the Office of the Ombudsman requesting assistance. Staff spoke with 65 industry representatives about banking matters through telephone calls, conferences and outreach visits. During the reporting period, FDIC resolved 21 bank failures ... * WASHINGTON (4/17/09)--Mortgages and refinancings at large financial institutions are rising, but consumer lending is dropping, according to a survey conducted by the Treasury Department (American Banker April 16). The survey included large financial institutions receiving funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Sixteen of the 21 firms surveyed said the number of mortgage originations increased, and two said originations decreased. Home equity line lending rose by 18%. Industrial and consumer lending weakened in all categories. Survey participants said their commercial and industrial lending dropped by 4% and origination of those loans dropped 13%. The Treasury stated that the drop in lending results from low demand ... * WASHINGTON (4/17/09)--Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is balancing a number of responsibilities and may need to re-focus, according to financial industry observers. Dodd will need to spend time campaigning in Connecticut and talking to voters, said Stuart Rothenberg, political analyst. At the same time, he has committee responsibilities. Former Rep. John LaFalce said Dodd could run as a populist--on the consumer side--and focus on overdraft fees, derivative regulation or predatory lending, instead of regulatory reform, though reform is a key priority for President Barack Obama and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. Dodd told American Banker (April 16) that he is focusing on helping Obama build a new financial system that protects consumers and investors. He also is working to crack down on abusive card practices, evidenced by legislation he introduced--S.414--which was approved by the Senate Banking Committee (News Now April 1) ... * WASHINGTON (4/17/09)--Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac modified 24,000 loans during the fourth quarter of 2008--a 76% increase over the third quarter, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) said in a release Wednesday. The FHFA also instituted a suspension on foreclosures from Nov. 26 to Jan. 31, which reduced the number of foreclosures in the quarter by 27%. Modifications represented 34% of fourth-quarter loss mitigation actions, compared with 22.2% in the third quarter, FHFA said ...


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