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Inside Washington (05/13/2010)
* WASHINGTON (5/14/10)--The Senate voted Wednesday to add an amendment that would require minimum mortgage standards for lenders and borrowers. The amendment, by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) would ban yield-spread premiums and require lenders to verify borrowers’ incomes (American Banker May 13). The measure also requires a proposed consumer protection bureau to write rules that guarantee a borrower can repay a mortgage. The measure, which was supported by consumer groups, would apply to all mortgages. It also would require lenders to ensure borrowers can repay a mortgage for five years based on verifiable income documentation ... * WASHINGTON (5/14/10)--A Congressional Oversight Panel study has found that the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) has done little to spur small business lending and has failed to restore stability to the smaller financial institutions that provide the bulk of small business loans. The study, which was released Thursday, concluded that the Treasury's new lending program for small banks, which would require Congressional action, would have only limited success, if enacted. The proposed Small Business Lending Fund would provide $30 billion in low-cost capital to small and mid-sized banks and incentives to increase lending. The program requires legislative approval, and even if Congress acts immediately, it may not be operational for some time, the panel said. Financial institutions also may shy away from the program for fear of being stigmatized by their association with TARP. They also may avoid taking on liabilities when their existing assets--such as commercial real estate--are troubled ... * WASHINGTON (5/14/10)--On Wednesday, the Senate voted 90-9 in favor of an amendment to keep the Federal Reserve’s current supervisory powers over state-chartered banks and holding companies. A few months ago, the Fed had been in danger of losing that oversight--which could have led to a consolidation of the Federal Home Loan Banks, said American Banker (May 13). The amendment was authored by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). If the Fed’s powers are taken away, the regional banks won’t have any input about what’s going on in smaller communities, Hutchison said. Industry groups representing community financial institutions had lobbied in favor of the Fed keeping its supervisory powers ... * WASHINGTON (5/14/10)--The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has named four new members to the Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT) for the term starting in 2010 and ending in 2012. “ACT members provide valuable feedback and insight on a wide variety of issues related to tax-exempt organizations and governmental entities,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman when making the announcement. The new members are: David N. Levine, Washington, D.C. , a principal at Groom Law Group; Adam C. Pozek, Reading, Mass., vice president of consulting services for Sentinel Benefits & Financial Group; Karen A. Gries, Minneapolis, a principal with Larson Allen LLP; and Celia Roady, Washington, D.C., a partner in Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP…


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