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Inside Washington (02/25/2010)
* WASHINGTON (2/26/10)--The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council Thursday issued updated guidance for financial institutions and others on risks associated with retail payment systems. The Retail Payment Systems Booklet is an update of a 2004 version that provided guidance on the risks and risk-management practices applicable to financial institutions’ retail payment systems activities--including checks, electronic payments related to credit cards and debit cards, and automated clearinghouse. The booklet also contains exam procedures … * WASHINGTON (2/26/10)--New details have surfaced on Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd’s (D-Conn.) regulatory reform bill. The latest draft of the bill would create a Financial Institutions Regulatory Administration, or FIRA, which would essentially combine the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Reserve Board’s banking responsibilities (American Banker Feb. 25). The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) would oversee state-chartered banks, but FIRA would oversee everything else, including systemically significant banks and non-banks. The bill also would call for the establishment of a systemic risk council, lead by the Treasury, which would write rules for large financial companies. The Fed would have a seat on the council, but no direct oversight of any company. Dodd negotiated with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on the bill, and financial observers said negotiations could continue with other policymakers … * WASHINGTON (2/26/10)--With a vote of 3-2 Wednesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to restrict short sales of company stock once it drops 10% from the previous day’s closing price. When the threshold is triggered, traders could execute sales only for stock at prices above the market’s best bid. Short-selling can play an important role in the market, but the agency is concerned that excessive downward price pressure on individual securities and the fear of unconstrained short-selling can destabilize markets, said SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro … * WASHINGTON (2/26/10)--Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke again advocated for broader Fed powers while being pressed by lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday (American Banker Feb. 25). The Fed must keep its powers because the Fed tries to get the information it needs to ensure creditworthy borrowers can get credit. Bernanke told the House Financial Services Committee that one reason why the Fed values its supervisory role is because it has the ability to understand what’s happening in the market. Bernanke was scheduled to testify again Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee. The Senate has considered stripping the Fed of its oversight powers …


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