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Inside Washington (04/17/2012)
  • WASHINGTON (4/18/12)--In early March, the Federal Reserve released 513 of about 7,000 pages of transcripts of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings from 2007 through 2010, according to a March 7 letter from FOMC Secretary William English (The Wall Street Journal April 17). Typically, the Fed releases full transcripts of its policy-making meetings five years after the sessions. But when news organizations requested transcripts of the meetings that centered on the 2008 financial crisis, the Fed released redacted documents that did not reveal any substantive content. The transcripts reflect who attended the meetings, some comments during the meeting, but no discussion of economics or policy. The minutes said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called the meetings to order, introduced staff presentations, honored departing colleagues and adjourned the sessions for lunch …
  • WASHINGTON (4/18/12)--An American Banker article (April 17) described how bank regulators are taking a look at old compliance standards, including the Bank Secrecy Act--a compliance area that also causes angst among credit unions as well as banks. BSA and anti-money laundering (AML) violations decreased to seven in 2011 after reaching double-digits in 2006, according to, a website developed by bank consultants. Violations are expected to increase as regulators concentrate on risk management and compliance, observers said in the Banker article. Earlier this month, the Office of Comptroller of Currency cited Citibank for failing to maintain adequate internal controls and effective independent testing in its AML compliance programs …
  • WASHINGTON (4/18/12)--A coalition of 32 lender, realtor, consumer and civil rights groups on Friday urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to include a broadly defined "qualified mortgage"--or QM--designation as part of its Dodd-Frank Act-mandated ability-to-repay final rule. In a letter to CFPB Director Richard Cordray, the trade groups said: "[A]n unnecessarily narrow definition of QM that covers only a modest proportion of loan products and underwriting standards, and serves only a small proportion of borrowers, would undermine prospects for a housing recovery and threaten the redevelopment of a sound mortgage market." The trade groups noted that Congress intended that all creditworthy borrowers--especially low- and moderate-income borrowers and families of color--should be extended the protections of a QM. "Creating a broad QM, which includes sound underwriting requirements, excludes risky loan features, and gives lenders and investors reasonable protection against undue litigation risk, will help ensure revival of the home lending market," the letter said. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supports a proposed safe-harbor rule. This proposal will make compliance less resource intensive for credit unions. CUNA will monitor the progress of the rule and work with the CFPB to ease the compliance burden for credit unions …
  • WASHINGTON (4/18/12)--Thomas M. Hoenig and Jeremiah O. Norton were sworn in Monday as members of the board of directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC). Prior to joining the FDIC's board, Hoenig was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and a member of the Federal Reserve System's Federal Open Market Committee from 1991 to 2011. Norton joins the board after serving as an executive director at J.P. Morgan Securities in New York. He was in government for a number of years before that, most recently as the deputy assistant secretary for financial institutions policy at the U.S. Treasury Department. Norton also was a legislative assistant and professional staff member for Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.) …
  • WASHINGTON (4/18/12)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to enhance and align their strategies for facilitating short sales, deeds-in-lieu and deeds-for-lease, in order to help more homeowners avoid foreclosures.  According to an announcement, the effort will be executed in stages with the first taking place in June. A new, aligned timeline will include the requirement that mortgage servicers review and respond to requests for short sales within 30 calendar days from receipt of a short sale offer. Also with the alignment, FHFA said, servicers will be required to do the following: review and respond to requests for short sales within 30 calendar days from receipt of a short sale offer and a complete borrower response package; provide weekly status updates to the borrower if the short sale offer is still under review after 30 calendar days; and, make and communicate final decisions to the borrower within 60 calendar days of receipt of the offer and complete borrower response package. The regulator also noted that by yearend, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will announce additional enhancements addressing borrower eligibility and evaluation, documentation simplification, property valuation, fraud mitigation, payments to subordinate lien holders, and mortgage insurance …


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