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Inside Washington (05/20/2011)
* WASHINGTON (5/23/11)--Pending mortgage-related regulations could create unintended harmful consequences within the industry, Acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh said Thursday (American Banker May 20). Walsh said 15 to 20 regulatory measures could create a “tsunami” of change for mortgage servicers at a time when the industry is already in a fragile recovery period from the housing crisis. The regulations include registration and compensation requirements for originators and standards for the independence of appraisers, the finalization of a rule mandating risk-retention for securitized loans, new servicing guidelines from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and proposals by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Walsh likened the possible side effects of combining so many rules to the dangerous side effects of a drug interaction … * WASHINGTON (5/23/11)--Senate Small Business Committee members pressed the Obama administration for details on the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF) during a hearing on Thursday (American Banker May 20). Don Graves, the deputy assistant Treasury secretary in charge of SBLF, said funds will be distributed next month, but committee members wanted more details. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) pressed Graves for the amount of funds that would be distributed. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the committee’s top Republication and an opponent of the program, also questioned whether applicants of the Troubled Asset Relief Program were seeking further assistance from the program. Treasury will make decisions on the first round of funding within the next few weeks and the money will be distributed to banks in June, Graves said. The deadline to distribute funds is Sept. 27 … * WASHINGTON (5/23/11)--The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Thursday advised federal bank regulators to update their commercial real estate guidance to standards that are compatible with how examiners deal with loans following the financial crisis. The recommendation was made in a report issued by the GAO at the request of Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, in response to concerns from banks that examiners have been overly strict in treatment of commercial real estate loans (CRE) following the crisis. The reports said agencies typically follow 2006 interagency guidance, which was designed to limit CRE concentrations. “A number of banks reported that examiners have been applying guidance more stringently since the financial crisis and believe that they have been too harsh in treatment of CRE loans,” the report said. “Regulators have incorporated lessons learned from the crisis into their supervision approach, which may help explain banks’ experiences of increased scrutiny.” The report said balance in bank supervision is needed to help ensure the banking system can support economic recovery …


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