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Inside Washington (04/30/2012)
  • WASHINGTON (5/1/12)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is no longer expected to announce a decision on whether to allow principal reductions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans by the end of the month as expected, an agency spokeswoman said Friday. A decision will not be made until the FHFA concludes its principal forgiveness analysis and discussions with the Department of the Treasury, the spokeswoman said. The agency did not specify a new target date for its decision. Some observers have cited write-downs as the most effective way to resolve bad credits and to avoid mass foreclosures, but FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco earlier this year indicated that forbearance plans and short sales already serve as forms of principal reduction without saddling taxpayers with further losses, and has also spoken in favor of principal forbearance. (American Banker April 30). Credit Union National Association Deputy General Counsel Mary Mitchell Dunn has said the FHFA's decision to delay the principal reduction decision is "not surprising," considering DeMarco was somewhat critical of principal reduction in recent comments. DeMarco earlier this year said a principal reduction program, if offered, would likely impact a fraction of the estimated 11 million underwater borrowers in the country today. The larger group of underwater borrowers who have remained faithful to paying their mortgage obligations are a greater risk to housing markets and taxpayers, he added. Encouraging their continued success could have a greater positive impact on the recovery of housing markets, he said…
  • WASHINGTON (5/1/12)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's decision to scale back proposed limits on credit card fees is being complimented by industry observers, despite some initial criticism from the media and consumer advocacy groups (American Banker April 30). The CFPB inherited a rule from the Federal Reserve Board that proposed limits on credit card fees prior to the opening of an account. A federal judge said the provision wasn't authorized by the law. The agency decided to strip the provision in its own proposal on the issue, rather than prolonging the issue in court.  Jo Ann Barefoot, a co-chairman of Treliant Risk Advisors, said the decision shows the CFPB is willing to focus on areas where it will have the biggest impact. The agency has a busy regulatory agenda in upcoming months, including the release of the qualified mortgage rule, which requires lenders to verify a borrower's ability to repay a loan unless it meets certain requirements. Isaac Boltansky, a policy analyst with Compass Point Research & Trading, said the CFPB showed restraint in scaling back the proposed limit on credit card fess to avoid fighting battles on multiple fronts …
  • WASHINGTON (5/1/12)--Stuart Ishimaru has been selected to head the  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) newly established Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI), which will work to promote diversity at the CFPB and at the financial institutions it regulates.  Ishimaru's experience includes leading the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and serving in senior positions in the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, and the Commission on Civil Rights. His work was often geared toward creating policies to foster diversity in the workplace and creating opportunities for women and minorities in contracting jobs.  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act requires the CFPB to establish the OMWI …


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