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Inside Washington (05/27/2010)
* WASHINGTON (5/28/10)--Michael Barr, Treasury assistant secretary of financial institutions, did not take a position on several key issues in the regulatory reform bill during a briefing this week. Barr said the Obama administration has no preference whether a proposed consumer financial protection division is housed as a separate agency or inside the Fed. The administration is “fine” with either approach, Barr said American Banker (May 27). Regarding a provision by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (R-Ark.) that would force banks to divest their derivatives operations to prevent them from taking risks, Barr said the goal of the provision may be better dealt with in the Volcker Rule. The Volcker Rule would limit investments in private-equity firms and hedge funds, and ban proprietary trading. Barr also failed to comment on Sen. Richard Durbin’s (D-Ill.) measure that would require the Fed to make sure interchange fees on debit cards are “reasonable” and allow merchants to give discounts on particular forms of payment--such as cash. The provision is not in the House version. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has said it would not support the interchange measure. CUNA wrote to House members urging them not to support the interchange amendment because it would dramatically alter the electronic payments system, and make it very difficult for card-issuing credit unions and community banks to continue to provide a wide array of products and services to consumers ... * WASHINGTON (5/28/10)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and China are working to better coordinate their resolution functions after United Commercial Bank of San Francisco failed in November. The bank had operations in China. The agreement between the FDIC and the China Banking Regulatory Commission says the two will: improve mutual understanding about their respective national regulations and laws on bank insolvency; cooperate in developing resiliency and resolution plans for banks operating in both the U.S. and China; conduct joint contingency planning to improve readiness for any future resolutions; enhance information exchanges about developing issues and cross-border financial institutions during periods of financial stress; and develop closer coordination to implement their resolution responsibilities in future crisis involving banks operating in both countries ...

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