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Senate subcommittee recommends complete dismantling of OTS

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The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency should completely dismantle the Office of Thrift Supervision since the agency received much of the blame for ignoring lending and securitizaton risks at Washington Mutual and other banks prior to the 2008 financial meltdown, a new report from the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said this week. That recommendation is just one of many proposed by senators in the "Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse" report, which outlines the causes of the financial crisis. However, under the Dodd-Frank Act, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is required to absorb the operation of the OTS by July 21. To prevent future meltdowns, the subcommittee said federal banking regulators should safeguard tax dollars by forcing banks with high-risk structured finance products and no reliable performance data to compensate for the risk by meeting "conservative loss reserve, liquidity and capital requirements." The report also suggests that federal regulators should require banks issuing negatively amortizing loans to maintain more conservative loss, liquidity and capital reserves. The committee also supports having regulators ensure all mortgages "deemed to be qualified residential mortgages have a low risk of delinquency or default." The agency also is recommending that financial institutions retain at least a 5% stake in asset-backed securitization products for a reasonable period of time, while also requiring banks with high-risk products to meet "conservative loss reserve, liquidity and capital requirements." The report suggests more oversight for credit rating agencies is needed and believes the Securities and Exchange Commission should use its regulatory authority to hold the agencies accountable in civil suits when they "knowingly or recklessly" fail to reasonably investigate a rated security. The Senate committee also believes the credit rating agencies should be ranked on the accuracy of their ratings. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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