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Inside Washington (04/29/2009)
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WASHINGTON (4/30/09)--Hubert Hoosman Jr., (left) president/CEO of Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., met Vice President Joe Biden in St. Louis April 17. Biden was in town at the University of Missouri-St. Louis for a speech on making college more affordable. The audience included U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. Hoosman is past president of the University of Missouri-St. Louis Alumni Association and remains active with the university. Vantage has $560 million in assets. (Photo provided by Vantage CU) ... * WASHINGTON (4/30/09)--Financial institutions may have more time to contest the results of stress tests that were given to 19 of the nation’s largest financial institutions. The results are expected to be released to the public May 4, and there is no clear cut-off date for banks to contest the results (American Banker April 29). The Federal Reserve Board Friday released stress test methodology ... * WASHINGTON (4/30/09)--Oral arguments Tuesday by some Supreme Court justices indicate support for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) ability to enforce laws--even state laws--at national banks (American Banker April 29). The high court heard a case related to a 2005 investigation by former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who asked for bank data so he could determine if they engaged in discrimination. The banks did not give him the data, so Spitzer threatened to sue. The OCC said it did not have to provide the information because of visitorial powers. Justice John Roberts, who voted against the OCC in a similar case--Watters v. Wachovia--appeared to side with the OCC. Justice David Souter noted language in the 1994 Riegle-Neal Act, which indicated that the OCC can enforce any law applied to national banks. However, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said arguments that the Watters case sets a precedent for the current case are inaccurate. Justice Antonin Scalia said the federal government should not enforce state law, noting that it may not have the time to worry about state law ... * WASHINGTON (4/30/09)--Michael Bradfield, a Washington attorney, could be the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s (FDIC) top pick for general counsel, according to financial industry observers. Bradfield served as a top lawyer at the Federal Reserve Board during the savings and loan crisis. He also worked at the Treasury from 1962 to 1975 (American Banker April 29). If chosen, Bradfield would succeed Sara Kelsey, who left the FDIC in October ... * WASHINGTON (4/30/09)--Democrats pushed Tuesday to widen the scope of which mortgages are permissible for modifications under legislation that aims to reform mortgage underwriting practices. Several amendments were proposed, including one that would widen the safe harbor to include fixed-rate loans less than 30 years old and adjustable-rate mortgages underwritten to the maximum rate in the loan’s first seven years (American Banker April 29). Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration also could define which loans qualify for the safe harbor. Another proposed amendment would allow regulators to adjust a requirement that lenders have to take on 5% of a loan’s risk. A vote on the amendments was expected Wednesday ... * WASHINGTON (4/30/09) The Hope for Homeowners program will be included as a part of President Barack Obama’s Home Modification Program (American Banker April 29). The Treasury announced more program details Tuesday, most of which relate to second mortgages. Servicers who help borrowers with the Hope program will receive incentives, Treasury said. Anne Canfield, Consumer Mortgage Coalition executive director, noted that the Hope program is viable--but that some changes may need to be made. Others applauded the changes. The new details “address the 800-pound gorilla in the room--second liens,” according to Brian Chappelle, partner at Potomac Partners. (See Related: CUNA: CUs should note changes to loan mod program) ...


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