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Inside Washington (04/26/2012)
  • WASHINGTON (4/27/12)--Changes made last October to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HAMP), a mortgage refinance program designed to help troubled homeowners, have benefited big banks at the expense of homeowners and U.S. taxpayers, according to mortgage experts testifying at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.  Laurie Goodman, a senior managing director at Amherst Securities Group, said in written testimony at a Senate housing subcommittee hearing that borrowers are making big profits because they lack competition. HAMP is intended to make it easier for homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages to refinance at lower interest rates. The program is designed for homeowners with good payment records who have seen the value of their homes drop. The revisions expanded access to the program. For example, borrowers who owe 25% more than their homes are worth could qualify for HAMP 2.0, as the new program is known. But critics say that the program now provides an advantage to the homeowners' existing servicers because they will not be required to purchase delinquent loans from Fannie and Freddie, while any potential competing servicers would be required to do so. Borrowers face obstacles and greater costs in obtaining a mortgage from any lender other than their current servicer, said Christopher Mayer, a professor at Columbia Business School …
  • WASHINGTON (4/27/12)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced the appointment of Denise Dunckel as senior associate director for the Office of Congressional Affairs and Communications where she will manage all internal and external communications for the agency. Dunckel previously served as senior business leader of Global Corporate Relations for Visa, Inc., where she managed the company's corporate, public policy and litigation communications strategies. Before joining Visa, Dunckel held senior public affairs positions at the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She also served as senior press advance representative in the Office of Presidential Advance at the White House. She will join FHFA May 14 …
  • WASHINGTON (4/27/12)--Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and co-author of namesake legislation the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, issued a press release Thursday to announce the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has agreed to permit filing of an amicus brief submitted by House Democrats concerning the ability of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to issue rules to limit speculation in commodities markets.  Frank noted that the amicus brief states "that the clear intent of Congress in enacting the (2010 law) was to require the (CFTC) to establish rules setting position limits on trading commodities futures and swaps."  Frank noted the Democratic brief, signed by 17 lawmakers, is a response to a lawsuit brought by the industry that  argues that the CFTC lacks authority to promulgate rules setting position limits before first conducting cost-benefit analyses on a case-by-case basis. Frank described the amicus brief signatories as "every member of the House who voted in conference for the financial reform bill and still serves in Congress …
  • WASHINGTON (4/27/12)--The Federal Reserve Board, along with the Federal Reserve Banks of Minneapolis and San Francisco, have scheduled a conference in Washington D.C. May 1 intended to explore ways to encourage economic growth in Native American communities.  "Growing Economies in Indian Country: A National Summit" is related to a series of forums organized by the Fed in partnership with the Interagency Working Group for Indian Affairs' Committee on Economic Development, a group of federal agency representatives who work with tribal governments. The Fed said its summit will provide a venue for tribal leaders, policymakers, financial industry professionals, and community development service providers to discuss:  challenges to economic development in Indian country; opportunities to strengthen Tribal enterprise development; opportunities to expand Native American entrepreneurship and access to small business capital; and opportunities to strengthen governance and legal structures. For more information, visit the conference website. Live online video will be available at 9:15 a.m. (ET) on May 1 …


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