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Washington
Inside Washington (03/31/2009)
* WASHINGTON (4/1/09)--Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-Mass.) bill to prevent risky mortgages could negatively impact the mortgage market, financial observers say. The bill would include a risk retention standard of 5%, provide liability protection to loans with 30-year fixed rates and provide a safe harbor for borrowers that meet certain guidelines (American Banker March 31). However, the bill also should provide safe harbors for borrowers with 15- to 20-year fixed-rate mortgages, said Scott Talbot, Financial Services Roundtable senior vice president. The legislation’s risk retention standard also could keep mortgage financing a bank-only business, according to Laurence Platt, K&L Gates LLP partner. Non-depository institutions will be put out of business because they won’t have the capital to hold the risk, he said ... * WASHINGTON (4/1/09)--The Obama Administration’s plan to help the secondary market for Small Business Administration loans is being jeopardized by the limits on executive compensation for companies participating in the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Because the program is funded by Treasury Department money, participants would have to abide by the compensation limits--and most have said they will not participate because of the limits, industry observers said. If those institutions do not participate, the program is unlikely to be successful (American Banker March 31). The administration is aware of potential participants’ concerns and is looking at options, said Anthony Wilkinson, president, National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders. The program was scheduled to begin by this week, according to a fact sheet the Treasury released March 17 ... * WASHINGTON (4/1/09)--Two congressional members have expressed their intent to draft legislation to modernize the financial regulatory system. In a letter sent to President Barack Obama this week, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced that they would begin working on legislation to create a framework for regulation to enhance financial stability and protect consumers and investors. The two have already held a series of hearings, briefings and meetings on reform, they said. Dodd also said he would work with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) to “build upon our bipartisan record” ... * WASHINGTON (4/1/09)--President Barack Obama Tuesday announced that he intends to nominate three individuals to posts at the Treasury Department: Helen Elizabeth Garrett as assistant secretary for tax policy, Michael S. Barr as assistant secretary for financial institutions and George W. Madison as general counsel. Garrett currently serves as vice president for academic planning and budget at the University of Southern California. Barr previously served as a special assistant to former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Madison is a former executive vice president and general counsel of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, College Retirement Equities Fund, and is a member of its executive management team ...


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