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Inside Washington (08/06/2009)
* WASHINGTON (8/7/09)--Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner took financial regulators to task when they voiced objections to the Obama administration’s plan to revamp the financial system. Geithner told them that they are somewhat responsible for the financial crisis and their objections are “playing into the hands” of financial industry groups trying to stop the plan (The New York Times Aug. 6). Geithner said Wednesday that he’s confident Congress will accept the plan and he understands that regulators are trying to preserve their jurisdiction. But the regulators can’t lose sight of the plan’s objective to revamp the financial system just because of a few policy differences. Regulators should not let efforts to defend their turf take away from getting the legislation passed, Geithner said ... * WASHINGTON (8/7/09)--Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director James Lockhart is set to resign soon and his departure could stir up questions about whether the government-sponsored enterprises, which the FHFA supervises, should be reformed. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have three options--nationalization, privatization or remaining the same (American Banker Aug. 6). Lockhart’s departure would mark another change in leadership for Fannie and Freddie, who have had three CEOs in three years. But financial observers said they didn’t think the leadership change would cause a problem. Brian Harris, Moody’s Investors Service analyst, said the GSEs have a lot of government support, so the leadership changes shouldn’t create instability. Ed DeMarco, FHFA senior deputy director and CEO, is expected to take over the agency on an interim basis until candidates for a permanent replacement are found ... * WASHINGTON (8/7/09)--Senate Banking Committee members at a Wednesday hearing on credit ratings agencies criticized some of the Obama administration's regulatory proposals, saying that they do not do enough to ensure that ratings agencies verify information supplied to them by their customers. American Banker on Thursday reported that committee chairman Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) was “stunned” to learn that credit ratings agencies do not fact check the information reported to them by customers. Dodd also expressed dismay that the administration’s proposal, as currently crafted, would not require the agencies to take additional due diligence measures, but Treasury assistant secretary for financial institutions Michael Barr said that expanding due diligence rules for the agencies would lead to the government dictating the agencies' methodology. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) during the hearing proposed that the Securities and Exchange Commission could help eliminate some conflicts of interest that occur in the credit rating system by randomly selecting securities to receive a second rating from a separate agency...


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