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Inside Washington (04/22/2009)
* WASHINGTON (4/23/09)--The number of loan modifications Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac completed in January increased by 3% compared with December and the prior-three month average, according to a Federal Housing Finance Agency report. In January, 8.953 loan modifications were completed, compared to 8,688 in December and 7,926 three months earlier. Of the modifications completed, 65% required an interest rate reduction and term extension, 19.5% required only a term extension, and 5.3% required an interest rate reduction only ... * WASHINGTON (4/23/09)--The Congressional Oversight Panel expressed their opposition Tuesday to a Treasury Department proposal that would convert preferred shares of banks to common stock (American Banker April 22). Converting the shares to common stock would not stabilize a financial institution and would put taxpayers at greater risk, argued Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). The panel also said banks should be allowed to repay government funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program immediately. Hensarling and former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) both said healthy institutions should be allowed to repay the funds, but Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner asked if the companies would have enough capital to lend and if they are working for the American people for recovery ... * WASHINGTON (4/23/09)--Big banks should break up, said top economists at a hearing Tuesday. The banks should be broken up unless there is compelling evidence that they shouldn’t be separated, said Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University professor who has won a Nobel prize. Simon Johnson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, said there aren’t any “compelling” advantages to size, while the disadvantages of being large are “dramatic” (American Banker April 22). Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), told reporters after the hearing that lawmakers are still considering how systemically significant firms should be handled under a new regulatory environment ...


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