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Washington
Inside Washington (10/19/2011)
* WASHINGTON (10/20/11)—U.S. senators on Tuesday criticized the Small Business Lending Fund for not providing enough capital to community banks. The fund, which was created a year ago, encourages banks to lend to small businesses (American Banker Oct. 19). Senators also complained that SBLF funding was used by some banks to repay their Troubled Asset Relief Program funds rather than to lend to small businesses. When SBLF-participating banks meet certain thresholds for small-business lending, they pay lower dividend rates on the government capital. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said demand from banks was lower than expected and half of all applicants were financially healthy enough to qualify for the program. Banks applied for only one-third of the capital in the program, he said. … * WASHINGTON (10/20/11)--Financial stability and monetary policy are “co-equal responsibilities” and “highly complementary” functions of central banks, Federal Reserve Board Ben Bernanke said Tuesday. “In the decades prior to the [financial] crisis, monetary policy had come to be viewed as the principal function of central banks; their role in preserving financial stability was not ignored, but it was downplayed to some extent,” said Bernanke, speaking at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston 56th Economic Conference. “The financial crisis has changed all that.” Efforts to draw distinctions between those two objectives can be blurred by the strong ties between financial and economic conditions, Bernanke said. For example, monetary policy actions that improve the economic outlook also tend to improve the conditions of financial firms. Similarly, actions to support financial institutions and markets can help achieve the central bank’s monetary policy objectives by improving credit flows and enhancing monetary policy transmission, he added … * WASHINGTON (10/20/11)--President Barack Obama continued his assault on big banks Tuesday, comparing them with polluters and offshore drillers. “You can’t pretend that creating dirtier air and water for our kids and fewer people on health care and less accountability on Wall Street is a jobs plan,” Obama said. “I think more teachers in the classroom is a jobs plan; more construction workers rebuilding our schools is a jobs plan; tax cuts for small business owners and working families is a jobs plan.” Obama has singled out Wall Street in other instances in recent weeks (American Banker Oct. 19). During a press conference earlier this month, he used Wall Street as an example of an institution that does not follow rules. He also singled out Bank of America Corp., after the company announced it will charge a $5 monthly fee for debit card use, as an example of why the U.S. needs stronger consumer protection … * WASHINGTON (10/20/11)--The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) on Wednesday announced that it will incorporate the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) information into its 2012 annual Median Family Income (MFI) data. MFI data is used by Federal financial agencies to compile Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) examinations analyses, the FFIEC said. That group also announced it would incorporate 2010 American Community Survey data into the FFIEC-published census data file…


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