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Inside Washington (05/15/2008)
* WASHINGTON (5/16/08)--An expansion of the Federal Reserve Board’s powers could threaten its independence--which is integral to the central responsibility of the Fed, said Paul Volcker, former Fed chairman, in a speech before the Joint Economic Committee Wednesday. Issues facing the troubled financial market need to be resolved through legislation, he said. The Federal Reserve Board recently expanded its “safety net” to help those strained by the problems in the market, that included providing direct support for Bear Stearns Co., which nearly collapsed last month. The Fed’s intervention was justified because of “extreme and unsettling market disturbances,” Volcker said, but he questioned how far regulation and supervision should go. He encouraged cooperation, saying “the critical pressures on our financial markets are not unique, nor can an approach to dealing with those pressures be successful in isolation.”... * WASHINGTON (5/16/08)--Changes to the Federal Reserve Board’s remittance plan, announced Tuesday, could open the door for banks to offer their corporate clients new electronic services. By 2010, the Fed plans to allow domestic transfers and will make them compatible with European standards (American Banker May 15). The changes would align the Fed with the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications and the Clearing House Interbank Payments System. The Fed also plans to insert a 10,000-character data field into the format. Bankers have argued for a long time that allowing remittance details in transfers would encourage more companies to compensate each other electronically. George Doolittle, managing director at Wachovia Corp., said the changes could revamp the way transfers are used. Banks could manage the liquidity of their corporate clients and could package remittances from travelers and immigrants for a quick settlement ... * WASHINGTON (5/16/08)--Promoting thrift among consumers was the focus of Credit Union National Association General Counsel Eric Richard’s remarks during a conference this week in Washington with members of a coalition of consumer advocates, public policy groups and academics looking at the issue.
Richard’s address to the coalition, organized by the Institute for American Values, centered on a recently released 68-page report, "For a New Thrift: Confronting the Debt Culture,” which prominently featured credit unions. The report recommended combating an over-dependence on credit through credit unions, which offer lower-cost financial products. The report also backed expansion and innovation for credit unions. Organizations mounting the effort include: the Institute for American Values, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, the New American Foundation, Public Agenda, the Consumer Federation of America and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The conference, “Confronting a Debt Culture: A National Conference,” concluded Tuesday. Other speakers included Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.); Kenneth W. Eiden, CEO, Prospera CU, Appleton, Wis.; and Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University and author of "For a New Thrift: Confronting the Debt Culture.” (Photo provided by the Credit Union National Association) ... * WASHINGTON (5/16/08)--The nomination hearing for Steven Preston, President Bush’s top choice to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has been scheduled for Tuesday with the Senate. The Credit Union National Association has said it supports Preston’s nomination for the position because he could bring several key problem-solving skills to the agency. Preston has been the head at the Small Business Administration for two years. Former HUD chief Alphonso Jackson’s resignation was effective May 9 ...


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