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Inside Washington (12/27/2009)
* WASHINGTON (12/28/09)--The Financial Crisis Inquiry Committee plans to have its first public hearing Jan. 13 and 14. The hearing will focus on the state of the financial crisis and its causes (American Banker Dec. 23). Top leaders of private and public-sector entities that played critical roles in the crisis will testify, but no names were announced ... * WASHINGTON (12/28/09)--Federal Reserve tests of tri-party reverse repurchase agreements have gone well, according to Thomas Wipf, chairman of the Treasury Market Practices Group, which is working with the Fed on the transactions. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York drained $990 million in reserves from the banking system this month through five trials of the repo program. The tests are not a change in policy, but are a way to take stimulus money out of the economy. Fed policymakers are considering how to withdraw emergency programs used to help the economy, and may use the repos to withdraw or neutralize cash in the system. In a reverse repo, the Fed lends securities for a set period, taking cash from the banking system (Bloomberg News Dec. 23). * WASHINGTON (12/28/09)--The amount of money the Federal Reserve and U.S. agencies have lent, guaranteed or spent has dropped 15% since September to $8.2 trillion--the lowest in a year (Bloomberg News Dec. 23). The drop--an ease in taxpayer burden--signals a change in the economy. But the government’s $4.2 trillion contribution still complicates future strategies for exiting from economic stimuli. It might be tough for elected officials to stop spending, which prolongs the bailout. Fiscal stimulus programs be dangerous, said David Wyss, chief economist for Standard and Poor’s. The Fed can print money, but the government has to raise taxes or borrow more money, he added. The House increased the government’s debt ceiling to $12.4 trillion last week and also passed a $154 billion economic aid package to pay for unemployment benefits, infrastructure and help for state governments ...

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