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Inside Washington (06/04/2008)
* WASHINGTON (6/5/08)--Several regulatory changes to the financial system to reduce its vulnerability are on the way, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a speech before attendees of the International Monetary Conference in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday. “Among the changes we expect to see are strengthening of capital and liquidity rules, greater disclosure requirements, an increased emphasis on the measurement and management of firmwide risks, and further steps to increase the transparency and resilience of the financial infrastructure,” he said. The Fed hopes to achieve a “more effective balance” between market discipline and regulation, he added. He also noted that the Fed and the Treasury continue to monitor developments in foreign exchange markets, and reiterated the Fed’s measures to ensure that financial institutions have adequate access to central bank liquidity ... * WASHINGTON (6/5/08)--The Financial Accounting Standards Board plans to scrap qualified special-purpose entities (QSPEs) in FAS 140 (American Banker June 4). If approved, the revision would be effective June 2009. Deliberation on the new standard is expected this month, and a public comment period will be set in July. A roundtable, where critics will be invited to meet with the board, is slated after the comment period. Banks and other financial institutions had improperly used QSPEs to securitize prepackaged loans. Under the new standard, companies will have to decide whether to put the entities on the balance sheet( June 2) ... * WASHINGTON (6/5/08)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) will sponsor a forum on mortgage lending for low- and moderate-income (LMI) households July 8. The purpose of the forum is to explore a framework for mortgage lending in the future, including identifying market and regulatory incentives for encouraging responsible lending. Speakers include: Henry Paulson, Treasury Secretary; Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Board chairman; and James Dimon, CEO and board chairman of JP Morgan Chase and Co. Topics include: Back to Basics, Reintroducing Standard Underwriting Criteria and Pricing to the LMI Mortgage Market; Reasonable, Profitable and Innovative Approaches to LMI Mortgage Lending; and Building Relationships, Building Communities: Partnerships that Foster Home Ownership ... * WASHINGTON (6/5/08)--If he is elected president, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) says he would offer several programs to protect consumers. He would encourage credit unions to provide short-term loans to the underserved and would try to cap interest rates on payday loans at 36% (American Banker June 4). He would create a $10 billion foreclosure prevention fund paid for by penalties given to lenders who engage in fraud, Obama said. The senator also proposed extending the Federal Reserve Board’s supervisory authority over institutions who borrow from the Fed, which contrasts with the Treasury’s blueprint to keep the Fed as a market stability monitor. Referencing a March 27 speech made by Obama in New York, Daniel Tarullo, an economic adviser to the senator, said the candidate’s focus on regulatory reform is not normally seen in presidential candidates. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in March that he didn’t support a government-backed bailout for mortgage lenders. Several weeks later, the senator supported a Federal Housing Administration plan by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn). ...


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