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Inside Washington (03/09/2011)
* WASHINGTON (3/10/11)--Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), chairman of the House Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets and government-sponsored enterprises, has introduced a bill to help establish a U.S. covered bond market. The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the House Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit. Covered bonds have been used in Europe for decades to help provide additional funding options for issuing institutions and are a major source of liquidity for many European nations’ mortgage markets. The purpose of the U.S. Covered Bond Act of 2011 is to create a legislative framework for U.S. covered bonds to allow credit to flow more freely from the capital markets to households, small businesses and state and local governments in a way that enhances stability of the broader financial system. “As our country recovers from the fallout of the financial crisis, it’s more important now than ever before to provide the U.S. capital markets with new and innovative ways to unlock credit and encourage private sector capital to get off the sidelines,” Garrett said … * WASHINGTON (3/10/11)--In a comment letter sent to the Federal Reserve Board, Acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh warned that the proposed debit interchange rule could be detrimental to banks of all sizes. Walsh said the proposal is too narrow and could threaten the safety and soundness of banks (American Banker March 8). Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the Fed is charged with keeping debit interchange fees “reasonable and proportional.” The Fed proposal, issued in December, limits interchange to 12 cents per transaction. But Walsh said the board overreached its authority and was required only to set reasonable standard, not an allowable fee. “Within the constraints of this statutory framework, we believe there is flexibility for the board to consider alternative approaches that could enable debit card issuers to recover identifiable costs of conducting a debit card business,” Walsh wrote. Credit Union National Association President/CEO Bill Cheney last week called for the Fed to stop, study and start over on interchange fee regulations and encouraged members of Congress to strike a legislative remedy that will ensure a meaningful interchange fee carve-out …

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