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Inside Washington (05/06/2008)
* WASHINGTON (5/7/08)--Top mortgage lenders were scheduled yesterday to meet privately with the Treasury Department to discuss second liens. Servicers were expected to suggest trading second liens so first-lien holders can tackle their outstanding debts (American Banker May 6). Second liens must be eliminated before a primary mortgage loan is modified. Yesterday’s meeting follows up an April 24 meeting called by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Paulson met with Treasury undersecretary Robert Steel and with executives from several top mortgage lenders ... * WASHINGTON (5/7/08)--A package of mortgage reforms could be enacted as early as June, said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) at a Mortgage Bankers Association conference this week (American Banker May 6). A package of bills containing reform for the Federal Housing Administration and the government-sponsored enterprises, and a bill that would allow lenders to write down mortgages to help troubled borrowers refinance, are expected to hit the House floor today. Frank also noted at the conference that he wants to hold a hearing later this month with the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association ... * WASHINGTON (5/7/08)--The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) Tuesday reduced Fannie Mae’s minimum capital requirements to 15% from 20%, which resulted in Fannie rising 8.9%. On the same day, Fannie posted a quarterly loss of $2.19 billion before preferred dividends. The enterprise reduced its dividend to 25 cents from 35 cents and plans to sell $4 billion of common and convertible preferred shares (Bloomberg May 6). OFHEO also lifted Fannie’s 2006 Consent Order ... * WASHINGTON (5/7/08)--Congress needs to be more flexible with federal agencies as they oversee the troubled mortgage market, said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at a Columbia Business School event in New York (The New York Times May 6). Agencies should be more innovative in helping the market, and should give the Federal Housing Administration more power to set standards and adjust rates for owners who want to refinance their mortgages, he said. Bernanke also added that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could help the market by raising money to help borrowers facing foreclosure ...

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