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Inside Washington (01/19/2009)
* WASHINGTON (1/20/09)--At a confirmation hearing Thursday, nominees for the Federal Reserve Board and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said reform of the financial regulatory system is a top priority (American Banker Jan. 15). Regulation should focus on monitoring the system for risks at any institution--not just ones that access the Fed’s lending facilities--and focus on improving capital cushions, said Daniel Tarullo, Fed governor nominee. Tarullo, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, said policymakers need to restructure the system so it can recognize and number potential sources of stress. Mary Schapiro, SEC chairman nominee, said the federal government should oversee insurance companies and regulate systemic risk, and hedge funds should disclose their activities. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), expressed concerns that the Fed has not yet created an exit strategy. Tarullo responded that while opinions differ on how the Fed should exit the private sector, the market may determine how it can actually “pull back” ... * WASHINGTON (1/20/09)--Systemic risk will remain, even if policymakers shrink the scope and size of large institutions, former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul Volcker said at a press conference Thursday (American Banker Jan. 16). The conference released a report on global financial regulation by the Group of 30, in which Volcker is involved. He signaled support for efforts to reduce Citigroup’s scope. Larger institutions “will have to come under closer surveillance than in the past,” Volcker told CNBC Thursday. “We do recommend they should not undertake some of the risker capital market functions they have in the past.” The central bank must play a more formal role in financial stability, he said. The report supported Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s suggestion to turn Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into private companies and criticized fair-value accounting. Accounting principles should be more realistic to deal with distressed markets, the report said ... * WASHINGTON (1/20/09)--President-elect Barack Obama will commit $50 billion to $100 billion of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to address the foreclosure crisis, according to a letter Lawrence Summers, director-designate of the National Economic Council, sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Thursday. “We will implement smart, aggressive policies to reduce the number of preventable foreclosures by helping to reduce mortgage payments for economically stressed but responsible homeowners, while also reforming our bankruptcy laws and strengthening existing housing initiatives like Hope for Homeowners,” the letter said. Banks receiving support under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act will have to implement mortgage foreclosure mitigation programs. The council also plans to require the Treasury to provide data on banks that receive investments ...


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