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Inside Washington (08/23/2011)
* WASHINGTON (8/24/11)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has adopted a policy to disclose all correspondence with the public about pending rules, including communication made outside the comment-letter process. The policy is primarily applicable when the CFPB publishes an interim final rule with a request for comment. The primary way the bureau collects public input is through written comments posted on the public rulemaking docket. Members of the public may also provide oral or written comments directly to CFPB staff or CFPB staff may seek information directly from members of the public outside of the public-comment process. “The CFPB’s policy requires that these ex parte presentations be summarized and disclosed on the public docket,” wrote Leonard Kennedy, the bureau’s general counsel in a blog post Monday describing the new policy. “In this way, members of the public can be informed of the input CFPB is receiving” … * WASHINGTON (8/24/11)--New rules issued by the Federal Reserve would require more stringent disclosures from mutual holding companies (MHCs) wishing waive dividends. Critics say the new rules could hurt mutual companies’ ability to attract investors and raise capital (American Banker Aug. 23). Thrifts are regulated by either the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or the states, but the Fed oversees their parent companies. Waiving dividends is one of the few attractions MHCs hold for investors, said Richard Lashley, a principal at PL Capital. The restriction mean that MHCs will hold less value for investors, said Eric Luse, a partner at Luse Gorman Pomerenk & Schick … * WASHINGTON (8/24/11)--Two economists being considered by the Obama administration as nominees for the Federal Reserve Board have publicly aired opinions on several financial services issues. Jeremy Stein, a Democrat, is a Harvard University finance professor. Richard Clarida, a Republican, teaches economics and international affairs at Columbia University and is an executive vice president at the money manager PIMCO. Both have held senior positions at the Treasury Department. Stein has been a critic of Basel capital rules, arguing that global regulators gave large banks too much time to comply with new capital and liquidity requirements written in response to the recent financial crisis. Writing with a colleague in a Financial Times op-ed piece, Stein argued banks should be forced to go to the market to raise capital. Stein wrote in a research paper earlier this year that regulators should make it standard practice to give banks incentives to raise incremental dollars of new capital. Clarida’s opinions have focused mainly on the struggling economy. He indicated his support for the Fed’s bond-buying policy known as “quantitative easing.” The Fed may need to purchase more assets if the second round--known as QE2--does not boost growth, Clarida said in a November 2010 Bloomberg News article … * WASHINGTON (8/24/11)--The Federal Reserve Board is proposing a two-year phase-in period for most savings and loan holding companies (SLHCs) to file regulatory reports with the board and an exemption for some SLHCs from initially filing reports (American Banker Aug. 23). Under the Dodd-Frank Act, supervisory and rulemaking authority for SLHCs and their nondepository subsidiaries transferred from the Office of Thrift Supervision to the board on July 21. On Feb. 3, the Federal Reserve Board sought comment its intent to require SLHCs to submit the same reports as bank holding companies, starting March 31, 2012. The Fed said it would take a phased-in approach to allow the SLHCs to develop reporting systems and reduce the risk of data quality concerns. Some thrift holding companies would not initially have to transition to the Fed’s reporting format. Companies with thrift subsidiaries holding less than 5% of a parent's assets and top-tier insurance companies that rely on a different format for submitting financial statements would be exempt …


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