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Inside Washington (02/18/2010)
* WASHINGTON (2/19/10)--The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund will host conference calls on its Community Development Capital Initiative. The initiative will make capital available to certain CDFIs to increase lending to small businesses and other community development projects. The calls will be held March 4, March 18 and April 1, all at 3 p.m. E.T. Each call will be a question-and-answer session to help CDFIs understand the certification and application process. Uncertified financial institutions must submit an application for certification by 5 p.m. E.T. April 16 to participate in the initiative ... * WASHINGTON (2/19/10)--The Obama administration and the Senate are moving toward an agreement to form a council of regulators that would identify systemic risk to the nation’s financial system, according to officials. If enacted, the council would be led by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (The New York Times Feb. 18). The council would in essence diminish the Federal Reserve Board’s authority over banks. Some Fed officials have protested this, but Chairman Ben Bernanke has said he would support a Treasury-led council, the newspaper said. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) said that with the Treasury secretary as chair and the Fed chairman as vice-chair, there will be “an early-warning system.” A senior administration official, who spoke to the Timeson condition of anonymity, said there may some danger in reducing the Fed’s power. It’s critical the Fed has hands-on supervision of the largest firms in the economy, he told the newspaper ... * WASHINGTON (2/19/10)--The Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) may dissolve soon, according to American Banker (Feb. 18). The House approved a bill last year to end the program, and the Senate may follow suit soon, the newspaper said. The program allows lenders to offer student loans at low rates with partial government guarantees. If dismantled, FFELP would save the government $87 billion over 10 years. Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), who has not yet taken a stance on eliminating FFELP, said that the impact on student lending and the availability of lending to help people attend college need to be examined. According to FinAid.org, 183 student lenders have suspended or exited from participating in the FFELP program. While talk of ending FFELP continues, a temporary measure--the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act--passed in 2008 that allows the U.S. Department of Education to buy student loans from lenders on the secondary market expires July 1. The department estimated that its liquidity program covered about 57% of FFELP loans, or about $112 billion. The department has said the program should not be extended ... * WASHINGTON (2/19/10)--More than 116,000 homeowners have permanent mortgage modifications, nearly double the number from December, according to a Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) report the Treasury Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released Wednesday. Roughly 76,000 permanent modifications have been offered and are waiting for borrowers’ signatures. More than one million homeowners have started trial modifications. Also, about 1.3 million homeowners have received offers for trial modifications have been extended to homeowners. More than 940,000 homeowners reduced monthly mortgage payments with a median savings of $500--an aggregate savings of more than $2.2 billion, the report said. The program is on pace to meet its goal of providing three to four million homeowners the opportunity to stay in their homes, Treasury and HUD said ...


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