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Inside Washington (12/17/2009)
* WASHINGTON (12/18/09)--The Senate Banking Committee Thursday approved Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke for a second term by a vote of 16-7. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) voted against Bernanke. Shelby said he disapproves of some the Fed’s actions and is not confident in Bernanke’s future plans (The Wall Street Journal Dec. 17). Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said she voted against Bernanke because she feels misled by the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Six of the opponents were Republicans. One Democratic panel member, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) opposed the renomination. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) supported Bernanke, but said he has made mistakes, as has every other financial regulator. However, Corker said he couldn’t think of another person who could do a better job. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) urged the committee to delay the renomination until the Fed gives more information on last year’s activities ... * WASHINGTON (12/18/09)--Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced legislation Wednesday that would reverse a provision of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act by prohibiting commercial banks from affiliating with investment banks (American Banker Dec. 17). The bill, the Banking Integrity Act of 2009, also would prevent banks from engaging in insurance activity and force them to eliminate any investment or commercial banking operations within one year of enactment. The act would reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which separated commercial banking from securities and insurance industries. McCain said the bill would prevent banks from being bailed out by Americans ... * WASHINGTON (12/18/09)--Policymakers appear to be moving ahead on financial regulatory reform, but some financial observers say the approach misses key issues. For instance, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Chairman Sheila Bair testified at a hearing last week about a Bank of America Corp. deal with Merrill Lynch. The hearing was the fifth the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had conducted regarding the deal (American Banker Dec. 17). In contrast, the committee has held only one hearing this year on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The government contributed $20 billion to the BoA deal, while TARP cost $700 billion. Robert Hockett, professor at Cornell University Law School, said policymakers’ work is misdirected. Congress is spending time on matters that later become “tangential,” he said. Also, lawmakers also are moving ahead with financial reform but haven’t found the cause of the financial crisis. However, some say Congress must act “when the iron is hot” or lawmakers may lose their chance to legislate when the public loses their “appetite for change,” said Brian Gardner, Keefe, Bruyette and Woods Inc. analyst ... * WASHINGTON (12/18/09)--The Federal Reserve Board has named 10 new members to its Consumer Advisory Council for three-year terms, and has designated a new chair and vice chair. Michael D. Calhoun was designated chair. Calhoun is the President of the Center for Responsible Lending in Durham, N.C., a nonprofit research and policy organization focusing on consumer lending issues. Jim Park was designated vice chair. His term on the Council ends in December 2011. Park is CEO of New Vista Asset Management in San Diego, which provides community-focused real-estate owned disposition services and works to turn foreclosures into affordable housing options for minority and low- and moderate-income families. His term on the council ends in December 2010. Other new members include: Joanne Budde, William Dana, Tino Diaz, Kerry Doi, Mike Griffin, Brian Hudson, Dory Rand, Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Corey Stone and Mark Wiseman ...


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