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Inside Washington (06/12/2008)
* WASHINGTON (6/13/08)--Loan modifications have been overstated, said Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan in a speech in New York this week. The loan modification data hasn’t undergone consistency and completeness checks, which raises questions about the data’s precision, he said (American Banker June 12). Dugan is the first regulator to question the loan reporting efforts, which are managed by the Hope Now alliance. The group said more than one million borrowers’ loans were modified between October 2007 and March 2008. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said Wednesday only 167,000 had been helped during the same time period. The OCC’s data come from reports conducted by nine banks, which hold 25% of outstanding subprime mortgages and 40% of outstanding mortgages. Hope Now represents 90% of the subprime industry. Hope Now’s executive director, Faith Schwartz, has defended her organization’s data ... * WASHINGTON (6/13/08)--Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) has introduced the Credit Rating Agency Transparency and Disclosure Act. “The housing market exposed dangerous weaknesses in the credit rating industry, demonstrating a clear need for reform,” he said in a statement. Specifically, the bill would: ensure that issuers and originators are providing credit rating agencies with adequate information on the assets underlying a structured security; require credit rating agencies to institute procedures for gathering data from issuers and originators concerning the procedures employed to attest to the data’s veracity and the fraud detection capabilities surrounding the process; and require credit rating agencies to disclose in a central database the historical default rates of all classes of financial products they have rated ... * WASHINGTON (6/13/08)--Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) is looking to propose legislation to ban institutional investors from commodity markets (The New York Times June 12). The senator is on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is planning a hearing June 24 to discuss whether the price of fuel and crops is being affected by financial speculation. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) also have requested a task force to see if deceptive practices are fueling energy prices--a request that was approved by the Bush administration ...

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