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Senate banking chair reveals priorities for 2009

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WASHINGTON (11/7/08)—Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) Thursday outlined several issues that the committee will target for the remainder of this Congress as well as in the next, including “intensive oversight” of the administration’s implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA). Dodd also dispelled speculation that he might resign as chairman of the banking panel in favor of another chairmanship. He said he will continue to lead the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in the 111th Congress. Dodd pledged to continue to work with ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), as well as Senate leadership and the new Obama administration to “build an economy that is strong and in which every American has the opportunity to succeed.” In addition to EESA oversight, issues on the chairman’s upcoming agenda include:
* Modernizing the country’s financial architecture to spur competition domestically and ensure that financial institutions are properly capitalized, regulated, and supervised; * Strengthening protections for consumers in mortgage lending, credit card lending, and investor rights, among other areas; * Renewing focus on the country’s housing needs; * Addressing critical economic and national security challenges; and * Crafting a transit bill to address problems from low economic growth to higher gas prices to pollution and global warming.
In his remarks announcing his committee priorities, Dodd said, “Our economic crisis is the center of gravity to which all our other problems are being pulled – and it will be ‘Ground Zero’ when it comes to digging us out of the hole we are in.”

GAO Urgent issues include financial institutions

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WASHINGTON (11/7/08)—Under an authority granted in 2000 but unused until the completion of the 2008 presidential election, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) launched a new “Transition Website,” which features as its centerpiece a list of the top 13 urgent issues facing President-elect Barack Obama. “Oversight of Financial Institutions and Markets” is featured prominently on the list. The website is the result amendments to the Presidential Transition Act of 2000, which included GAO as a resource to incoming administrations, specifically identifying GAO to serve as a source of briefings and other materials. The GAO is the research arm of the U.S. Congress and federal lawmakers will likely be reviewing the site carefully as information is posted. GAO Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said in a release, “With the serious challenges related to financial markets and the economy, the financial crisis facing the nation, two wars under way, and the first transition since 9/11 and the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, this is absolutely a unique time.” He said GAO has combed through all its recent work to “help address urgent challenges facing the nation now, to assist new appointees in every agency zero in on the challenges of that particular agency, and to help identify areas with the potential to save the nation billions of dollars.” Regarding financial institutions and markets, the GAO website notes, “The global economy and financial markets are coping with a crisis that started with a rise in foreclosures and defaults in the subprime mortgage market that quickly afflicted credit markets globally.” It also refers to passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and creation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program “in an attempt to stabilize the financial system and restore the functioning of credit markets.” GAO goes on to identify “a number of challenges that the new administration and the Congress will have to immediately confront, including:
* Effectively managing and evaluating efforts initiated by the Office of Financial Stability; * Maintaining the safety and soundness of the nation's banking system; * Reforming the U.S. financial regulatory system to reflect 21st century realities: and * Restoring the functioning of mortgage markets.
“The new Web site is designed to be easy to navigate and to find information since this is a period when appointees have limited time to learn about their new positions and the challenges that come with making a successful transition from campaigning to governing,” Dodaro said. The complete urgent issues list is as follows:
* Caring for Servicemembers; * Defense Readiness; * Defense Spending; * Food Safety; * Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; * Oversight of Financial Institutions and Markets; * Preparing for Large-Scale Health Emergencies; * Protecting the Homeland; * Public Diplomacy and International Broadcasting; * Retirement of the Space Shuttle; * Surface Transportation; * The 2010 Census; and * Transition to Digital TV.
In addition to the urgent issues, the new GAO Web site is to include sections on: agency-by-agency issues, summarizing its work addressing 28 federal agencies; major cost-saving opportunities across agencies; and management challenges across the government. Use the resource link below to view the new GAO site.

Inside Washington (11/06/2008)

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* WASHINGTON (11/7/08)--The Federal Reserve Banks announced Thursday that the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland will serve as the single paper check processing and adjustments site and that the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta will serve as the single paper check processing site for the Federal Reserve System. The banks also announced they will use a restructuring schedule that scales back or shifts operations at other sites when paper check volumes do not justify the existing operation. Paper check volumes have steadily declined and do not support the need for four full-service sites. The transition from four to one full-service paper processing site is likely by the end of next year, the Fed said ... * WASHINGTON (11/7/08)--President-elect Barack Obama selected two bankers Wednesday to work on the Obama-Biden Transition Project, which aims to ease the new administration’s transition into the White House (American Banker Nov. 6). The individuals are: Michael Froman, former managing director, Citigroup; and William Daley, JPMorgan Chase and Co. Midwest chairman. Daley is the brother of Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago. Froman previously worked as chief of staff to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin ... * WASHINGTON (11/7/08)--The Federal Reserve Board Wednesday asked for more cash from the banking industry so that it can pay more interest on reserves that financial institutions hold at the Fed. The current interest rate is 1%. The plan aims to encourage bankers to send their money to the central bank instead of other institutions. Some smaller banks have been borrowing in the interbank market at lower rates than the Fed funds rate (American Banker Nov. 6). The Fed’s interest hike could cost small banks more, but it would add to the Fed’s balance sheet to support liquidity programs the central bank is using to ease the credit crisis ... * ALEXANDRIA, Va. (11/7/08)--National Credit Union Administration Chairman Michael Fryzel (far right) toured Regional FCU’s student branch at Morton High School in Hammond, Ind., Tuesday. “This kind of outreach sets the foundation for America’s youth to become financially responsible adults, and is one that will pay significant dividends in the future,” he said. Regional FCU operates nine school branches run by students. The student branch program was designed by the credit union to teach students money management skills. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Administration) ...

Mica to address CU challenges in live Nov. 19 webinar

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WASHINGTON (11/7/08)--The challenges presented to credit unions as a result of the financial crisis will be addressed in a special live nationwide webinar featuring Credit Union National Association (CUNA) President/CEO Dan Mica, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. ET. The Internet-based video conference--open to all CUNA-affiliated credit unions at no charge--will focus on the financial crisis and how credit unions can leverage their “white hat image” to help minimize the impact of the crisis on credit union members, as well as the nation itself. “We are developing a vision for how credit unions can work for their members and the nation, through the Congress and the regulatory agencies, to help them through these difficult times,” Mica said. “The Congress will have a ‘working majority,’ meaning that if they decide to do something quickly, they can move very fast. We are going to need to be ready to act in any number of ways.” Affiliated credit unions can hear directly from Dan Mica about the Nov. 19 webinar, by clicking on the image below.
Click to view video (affiliated credit unions only)