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Inside Washington (07/30/2010)
* WASHINGTON (8/2/10)--The Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) program, which provides unlimited deposit insurance coverage for non-interest-bearing checking accounts, has sparked some questions from financial industry representatives about how the government will carry out the extension of TAG coverage (American Banker July 30). The original TAG program was voluntary, but the recently enacted regulatory reform bill makes the program mandatory. Some worry that banks who do not need the coverage will still have to pay for it. While the law does not institute a fee for banks to pay for the coverage, some observers told Banker they are concerned that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s risk profile will increase if institutions that opt out of the program are covered. The agency could include zero-interest deposits in its ratio of reserves--which could raise premiums, the publication said. TAG was originally launched in 2008 and lawmakers gave banks until 2012 to continue receiving coverage under TAG. About 5,800 banks participate in the program ... * WASHINGTON (8/2/10)--Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), committee ranking Republican member, urged President Barack Obama to appoint a permanent director for the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA). The position has been vacant since the agency was created two years ago (American Banker July 30). Also two years ago, when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed in conservatorship, policymakers did not create a plan for their futures, but Dodd and Shelby noted that the FHFA director would be in charge of the enterprises. FHFA has an acting director, Edward J. DeMarco, but a permanent one should be appointed, they said ... * WASHINGTON (8/2/10)--Financial institutions are prepping for the regulatory reform bill’s impact, according to American Banker (July 30). The publication likened the preparations to the strategy of hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who skated not to where the hockey puck had been, but rather “where it was going to be.” Chris Thompson, head of risk management at consulting firm Accenture, said the firm is advising its clients to look at the changes they have to make, and “how you take out costs and make profits more efficiently.” Often, financial institutions move too quickly to comply with new regulations and then go back later to offset the impact, he said. It will be hard to absorb the cost of compliance without taking some steps to cushion the blow, he told the publication. Some institutions, like Bank of America, told Banker they are assessing the rules before reacting to them. Other banks, like SunTrust, have revised early forecasts to reflect some reform costs ...


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