Monday Morning Cup of Coffee

A look at stories across HousingWire’s weekend desk…with more coverage to come on bigger issues: Will financial reform pass by July 4? The House Financial Services Committee issued a statement Sunday urging “bold action” on the Dodd-Frank bill, the reconciled financial reform bill agreed to by a Congressional committee last week and named after Sen Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Rep Barney Frank (D-MA). The final bill now travels to separate House and Senate votes and then, upon passage by Congress, to a Presidential signature into law. “Americans have faced the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,” the Committee said in a statement. “Millions have lost their jobs, businesses have failed, housing prices have dropped, and savings were wiped out.” The statement added: “We must restore responsibility and accountability in our financial system to give Americans confidence that there is a system in place that works for and protects them. We must create a sound foundation to grow the economy and create jobs.” Treasury Department secretary Timothy Geithner commented on the reform bill while in Toronto on Saturday at the G-20 summit “The United States is on the verge of enacting the strongest set of financial reforms since those that followed the Great Depression,” he said, according to prepared statements. “These reforms, which embrace the broad principles set out by the G-20, will reduce the risk of future crises and help make sure our financial system can better serve the interests of Main Street America. And these reforms will help make sure the United States is a source of strength rather than instability for the world economy in the future.” He noted three elements in the Obama Administration’s strategy to bringing financial stability: emergency efforts “to support demand and fix what was broken in the financial system”; stimulus efforts to invest in education, health care, research, etc.; and efforts to reduce deficits as a share of the economy by half over the next four years. Part of financial reform will involve ultimately winding down government support of Freddie Mac (FRE) and Fannie Mae (FNM), which are still in conservatorship. Speculation remains as to how the mortgage finance industry will look post-conservatorship. The Royal Bank of Scotland, in commentary Friday, noted that conservatorship will likely end as financial reform is extended to government-sponsored entities (GSEs) Fannie and Freddie. “In this case, if the GSEs are cast as something new, then the debt would be issued under this new entity,” RBS said. “Regardless of the ultimate outcome for the GSEs, we expect all agency debt currently outstanding and issued under congressionally chartered GSE status to remain related to the government. Reducing support is contrary to all of the actions taken by the Administration and Treasury.” Regulators shut down three depository banks on Friday, bringing the running 2010 total to 86 banks shuttered so far. By the same time last year, 45 banks had failed. Friday’s failures, located in Florida, Georgia and New Mexico, are estimated to cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) a combined $284.6m. The Florida Division of Financial Institutions shut down Peninsula Bank. The FDIC entered a purchase and assumption agreement with Premier American Bank, which will buy essentially all $644.3m of assets and assumes all $580.1m of deposits. The FDIC and Premier American entered a loss-share transaction on $437.6m of Peninsula Bank’s assets. The failure is expected to cost the FDIC’s Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) $194.8m. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) shut down First National Bank of Savannah, Georgia. The FDIC entered a purchase agreement with The Savannah Bank, which will purchase “some” of the failed bank’s $252.5m of assets, and will pay the FDIC a 0.11% premium to assume all $231.9m of deposits. The FDIC expects to retain most of First National Bank’s assets for later disposition. The failure is expected to cost the DIF $68.9m. “The OCC acted after finding that [First National Bank] had experienced substantial dissipation of assets and earnings due to unsafe and unsound practices,” the OCC said in a statement. “The OCC also found that the bank incurred losses that depleted its capital, the bank is critically undercapitalized, and there is no reasonable prospect that the bank will become adequately capitalized without Federal assistance.” The New Mexico Financial Institutions Division shut down High Desert State Bank. The FDIC entered a purchase agreement with First American Bank, which will purchase essentially all $80.3m of assets and all $81m of deposits. The FDIC and First American Bank will share losses on $67.6m of High Desert State Bank’s assets. The failure is expected to cost the DIF $20.9m. The FDIC on Friday also issued several financial institution letters to member banks in Puerto Rico and West Virginia, which are affected by recent flooding, severe storms, mudslides and landslides. “The FDIC is encouraging banks to work constructively with borrowers experiencing difficulties beyond their control because of damage caused by the severe weather,” the FDIC said in a statement. “Extending repayment terms, restructuring existing loans or easing terms for new loans, if done in a manner consistent with sound banking practices, can contribute to the health of the community and serve the long-term interests of the lending institution.” Federal disasters were declared on June 24 for some municipalities in Puerto Rico where flooding occurred in late May, and for selected counties in West Virginia where mudslides and landslides began on June 12. The financial institution letter to West Virginian banks can be downloaded here and the letter to Puerto Rican banks can be downloaded here. Write to Diana Golobay. Disclosure: the author holds no relevant investments.

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