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Congress this week Consumer protection discussions

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WASHINGTON (7/14/09)--Debate on President Barack Obama’s proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency will continue this week with Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Institutions Michael Barr testifying before the Senate Banking Committee during a Tuesday hearing. State government officials, industry insiders, and public policy advocates will testify during the hearing, and the Credit Union National Administration is considering submitting a prepared statement for the hearing. The Senate Banking Committee will also address foreclosure prevention during the week, with Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Herbert Allison scheduled to testify. The House Financial Services committee will discuss regulatory reforms in more general terms later in the week, with separate hearings for banking insiders, community and consumer advocates and a hearing to discuss “industry perspectives” set for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, respectively. The House will also debate the contents of its Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. As currently written, the bill would allow the National Credit Union Administration's Central Liquidity Facility to maintain its maximum amount of $40 billion through the 2010 fiscal year and would increase funding for the U.S. Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions fund and the Small Business Administration's business loan account.

NCUA releasing more U.S. Central WesCorp info

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (7/14/09)--The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) on Monday said it would release quarterly reports detailing the portfolio valuations of U.S. Central Federal Credit Union and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union (WesCorp). According to the NCUA release, the reports include information on “quarterly valuations and future loss projections” for the commercial and residential mortgage-backed securities held by both corporate credit unions. In a statement accompanying the release, NCUA Chair Michael Fryzel said that the “NCUA consistently strives to strike a reasonable balance between the desire for transparency and the provision of detailed, relevant data to interested parties,” adding that the release of this information was “part of NCUA’s continuing commitment to make as much material available to the credit union industry and financial public as is possible.” The valuation reports, which were produced by Clayton IPS, LLC, will be made available to federally insured credit unions that agree not to publicly disclose any information contained in the report. More specifically, natural person credit unions may request a copy of the report from their corporate credit union, if it is associated with U.S. Central. These reports will be available for thirty days after U.S. Central and WesCorp’s quarterly financial results are posted. The NCUA has also recently responded to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Credit Union National Association by releasing documents on its early response to corporate credit union losses and liquidity concerns, including previously private information on NCUA board meetings, board actions, and valuations of the mortgage-backed securities portfolios held by U.S. Central and WesCorp. (See related story: NCUA FOIA reports detail early response to corp. CU crises News Now July 9.)

Inside Washington (07/13/2009)

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* WASHINGTON (7/14/09)--Congressional legislators will still oppose giving systemic oversight authority to the Federal Reserve Board, even if the Fed is found to have had no undue influence over Bank of America’s purchase of Merrill Lynch. As reported in American Banker July 13, 17 House legislators, including three Democrats, told President Barack Obama in a letter sent last Friday that his administration, the U.S. Congress, and citizens should carefully consider granting such far-reaching power to a single regulatory entity with little public accountability. Lawmakers have questioned Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s claims that he did not push Bank of America to purchase Merrill Lynch, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold hearings on this issue in the near future... * WASHINGTON (7/14/09)—The Obama administration could bring over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives onto regulated exchanges and central clearing platforms under its potential plans to standardize OTC contracts. Speaking on Friday, Geithner told House legislators that the exact definition of standardization would change as markets changed. Though he could not give extensive details on the administration’s plan, Geithner said that the Commodity Future Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission have taken extensive steps toward solving some of their jurisdictional issues. Geithner and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) both seem to be in favor of allowing businesses and banks to protect themselves from changes in currencies and interest rates through the use of customized contracts. (American Banker July 13)… * WASHINGTON (7/14/09)—Representatives from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) told American Banker that it is revising a rule that governs its visitorial powers of national banks. They July 13 issue reported that while the revision has not been completed, the OCC said it will work to apply the rule in a proper fashion after the U.S. Supreme Court last month criticized the OCC’s rule and ruled that individual states could use the court system to enforce non-preempted state laws against national banks...