Reporter, Washington, D.C.
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Feb 28, 2012

Analysis: High hurdle for Volcker rule foreign debt exemption

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. regulators are under immense pressure from foreign officials to rework the Volcker rule trading ban so that it does not restrict trading in their foreign debt, but that’s easier said than done.

Finance officials from the Group of 20 economic powers expressed confidence over the weekend that the United States would rejig the proprietary trading ban so that it does not exempt just U.S. Treasuries.

Feb 28, 2012

FDIC says U.S. banks in position to help economy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. bank industry has recovered to the point that it can boost the economic recovery by extending more loans, the top bank regulator said on Tuesday.

Martin Gruenberg, acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, said he was encouraged by banks’ increased lending but said they must do more to continue reaping the profits seen in recent quarters.

Feb 24, 2012

SEC chief resists pressure on global accounting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. securities regulator said on Friday that the United States won’t be rushed into a possible move toward a global accounting standard and will only adopt such a regime if it is good for U.S. markets.

“I don’t feel any pressure at all to go along with anybody,” said Mary Schapiro, the chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, on the sidelines of the Practising Law Institute’s annual SEC Speaks conference.

Feb 22, 2012

US consumer agency to examine bank overdraft fees

WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (Reuters) – The new U.S. Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau is weighing a crackdown on checking
account overdraft fees charged by banks, saying the charges can
“inflict serious economic harm” on consumers.

The agency said on Wednesday that it will begin collecting
information to determine if banks are manipulating the system to
goose fees and whether they are making it clear to customers how
they can incur overdraft charges.

Feb 16, 2012

CFPB targets debt collectors and credit bureaus

WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (Reuters) – The new Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau announced plans to regulate debt
collectors and companies that produce credit reports as part of
an effort to expand its oversight outside of the banking
industry.

The agency is charged by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial
oversight law with overseeing consumer financial products, such
as credit cards and mortgages, offered by banks as well as some
products offered outside the industry, including residential
mortgages and student loans.

Feb 15, 2012

US regulators extend foreclosure review timetable

WASHINGTON, Feb 15 (Reuters) – Homeowners who believe
improper foreclosure actions were taken against them in 2009 and
2010 will get more time to ask for their cases to be reviewed
for possible compensation from banks, U.S. banking regulators
said on Wednesday.

As part of an April 2011 settlement with regulators, 14
banks agreed to hire independent consultants to review
foreclosures that occurred in 2009 and 2010 to see what errors
or legal violations may have occurred.

Feb 13, 2012

Wall Street raises legal questions on Volcker rule

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Wall Street and business lobbying groups are sending a not-so-subtle message to U.S. financial regulators writing the so-called Volcker rule: Slow down or we may see you in court.

In letters filed with regulators on Monday, the groups said they do not believe the agencies have taken the time or made the effort to weigh the costs of the new ban on proprietary trading by banks on the economy or the business community.

Feb 10, 2012

Congressman says will be exonerated by ethics probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top Republican lawmaker predicted on Friday he would be exonerated by a congressional investigation into whether he broke any insider trading laws or ethics rules, but it was unclear if he would be able to retain his job as the chairman of a key committee.

“I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight,” said Spencer Bachus, chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee. “I have fully abided by the rules governing members of Congress and look forward to the full exoneration this process will provide.”

Feb 10, 2012

EU’s Barnier expresses concern about Volcker rule

WASHINGTON, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Michel Barnier, the
European commissioner in charge of financial
regulation, wrote U.S. regulators earlier this week raising
concerns about the impact that a ban on most proprietary trading
by banks could have on financial markets outside the United
States.

Barnier said that a proposed U.S. rule implementing the ban
applies too broadly to foreign banks and markets and should
instead focus only on trading activities that occur in the
United States.

Feb 9, 2012

U.S. bank regulators roll fines into mortgage pact

By Dave Clarke

(Reuters) – U.S. banking regulators are using the agreement announced on Thursday between large U.S. banks and state and federal agencies over foreclosure abuses as a vehicle for levying their own fines on banks for problems in their mortgage servicing businesses.

In April 2011 banking regulators reached a deal with 14 banks on the steps they have to take to clean up how they deal with struggling homeowners.