February 5, 2014 Newsletter
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February 5, 2014
 

SFIG News

Issue Spotlight

Recent Developments

Washington Happenings

 

 
 
SFIG NEWS
INDUSTRY COMMENTS ON PROPOSED LIQUIDITY COVERAGE RATIO
On January 31, 2014, SFIG and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) submitted to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve (collectively the Agencies) a comment letter related to the securitization market impacts of the proposed Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR). In addition to the SFIG submission, nearly 50 institutions, corporate end users of securitization credit facilities, submitted a letter collectively, the Agencies indicating support of SFIG and SIFMA’s letter.

SFIG also joined SIFMA, the Clearing House Association, American Bankers Association, Financial Services Roundtable, Institute of International Bankers and International Association of Credit Portfolio Managers in a broad industry trade group comment letter that submitted on January 31, 2014. While the SFIG/SIFMA letter focused on the securitization aspects of the proposal, this letter addressed all aspects and impacts of the LCR proposal. The securitization sections of the broad letter were informed by the SFIG/SIFMA letter.

SFIG and SIFMA met with regulators to discuss key concerns on January 10, 2013 and are in the processof setting up meetings with rule-makers now that the comment letter has been submitted.

Please contact Director of Policy Sairah Burki at Sairah.Burki@sfindustry.org with any questions.

On November 29, 2013, the OCC, Fed and FDIC published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking that would implement a quantitative liquidity requirement consistent with the LCR established by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision. The proposal would apply to internationally active banking organizations—generally, those with $250 billion or more in total consolidated assets or $10 billion or more in on-balance-sheet foreign exposure; to systemically important nonbank financial institutions; and to any consolidated bank or savings association subsidiary of one of these companies that, at the bank level, has total consolidated assets of $10 billion or more. The proposed LCR, which is designed to strengthen the liquidity risk management of banks and savings associations, would require covered companies to maintain a standard level of high-quality liquid assets.

 
SFIG ANNOUNCES FORMATION OF CHINESE MARKET COMMITTEE
In October 2013, SFIG highlighted the expectation that the Chinese securitization market could see significant growth going forward, with an expectation that as many as 20 institutions might be engaged in issuance during the first half of 2014, collectively issuing close to $50 billion.

This all follows the re-commitment of the Chinese regulatory authorities to a pilot program involving China’s “credit asset securitization” framework. For your aid, we have repeated our Issue Spotlight from October 23, 2013 in this week’s newsletter.

In light of these expectations and in an effort to help share collective US experience with our counterparts in China, SFIG has agreed to partner with the Chinese Securitization Forum (CSF), under the leadership of Mr. Borong Liu, General Secretary and Director of the CSF. Following initial meetings between SFIG leadership and Mr. Liu, our first step in creating a sustainable and value added contribution is the formation of our “Chinese Market Committee”. Please see our on the matter to learn more. If you are interested in participating or taking a leadership role in this committee please email Committees@sfindustry.org.

 chinese market committee
SFIG leadership cements newly formed partnership with the Chinese Securitization Forum at ABS Vegas 2014.
From left to right: SFIG Executive Director Richard Johns, SFIG Chairman Reginald Imamura, CSF General Secretary Borong Liu, SFIG Vice Chairman Christopher Haas, and SFIG Executive Committee Member Howard Kaplan.
 
 
Q1 ADVOCACY OUTLOOK
SFIG’s GSE Reform Subcommittee continues its work on formulating a comprehensive policy recommendation which will be shared with the RMBS Committee and form the basis for SFIG’s position as Congress moves forward with Housing Finance Reform.

The leading bill in the House of Representatives is H.R. 2767, the Protecting American Taxpayers and Homeowners (PATH) Act, which has passed out of committee and is awaiting floor action. The leading bill in the Senate is S. 1217, the Corker-Warner Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act. At present, Senators Corker (R-TN) and Warner (D-VA) are working with Banking Chairman Johnson (D-SD) and Ranking Member Crapo (R-ID) to create a comprehensive reform bill that is expected to be based off of S. 1217.

As SFIG formalizes its position on housing finance reform, it will work with Members of Congress to ensure its positions are considered in both the House and Senate. If you would like to participate, please contact Amanda.Bateman@sfindustry.org.

SFIG has successfully launched Project RMBS 3.0.  Three subcommittees have been formed in the following areas: Representations, Warranties and Repurchase Enforcement; Due Diligence/Loan Review, Data and Disclosure; and Role of Trustees and Bondholder Communications. A Steering Committee composed SFIG member co-chairs of the subcommittees has also been formed to oversee the subcommittees’ work.  If you are interested in participating on any of the three subcommittees, please contact Mary.Robinson@sfindustry.org

SFIG’s Mortgage Loan-Level Disclosure Subcommittee has reviewed and developed additional data elements for potential disclosure.  SFIG will use this work as a basis of discussions and correspondence with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the mortgage aspects of Regulation AB II.  Please contact Alyssa.Acevedo@sfindustry.org for additional information. 

SFIG is working with the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA), Institute for International Finance (IIF), and Commercial Real Estate Finance Council (CREFC) on a response to Basel’s Second Consultative Document, Revisions to the Securitization Framework. Conference calls are being held weekly with GFMA, IIF and CREFC. To participate in these calls, please email Amanda.Bateman@sfindustry.org and ask to join the Basel Task Force.

SFIG is continuing to engage with regulators and legislators on our concerns regarding the Liquidity Coverage Ratio proposal. Please contact Alyssa.Acevedo@sfindustry.org with your questions or comments.

The Volcker Task Force is working with the asset class committees to determine key issues and need for interpretative guidance regarding the Volcker Rule. Please contact Amanda.Bateman@sfindustry.org if you would like to participate.

The Regulatory Capital and Liquidity Committee will start working on a comment letter on Basel’s Net Stable Funding Ratio proposal . If you would like to participate, please email Mary.Robinson@sfindustry.org.

The Risk Retention Committee is continuing to follow up with regulators on risk retention questions across asset classes. Please email Alyssa.Acevedo@sfindustry.org with any questions.

SFIG is establishing our partnership with the Chinese Securitization Forum (CSF) and the formation of our Chinese Market Committee. Contact Alyssa.Acevedo@sfindustry.org to join.

SFIG has kicked off its initiative to provide critically needed input for the Financial Stability Board’s “Shadow Banking” project. If you would like to be involved in this new working group, please email Amanda.Bateman@sfindustry.org.

 
 
ISSUE SPOTLIGHT
THE CHINESE SECURITIZATION MARKET
Overview
Recent developments in China have caused observers to ask whether a robust securitization market may begin soon in that country.

In August 2013, Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce company, executed a Rmb 500 million (U.S. $82 million) offering of asset-backed securities. The securities were backed by short-term micro-loans that Alibaba Finance provided to clients on its e-commerce platforms.

The Alibaba transaction was undertaken using a “special asset management plan” (SAMP). SAMPs are generally thought of as being quasi-securitizations, since the “true sale” and bankruptcy remote nature of the asset pool is unclear. SAMPs tend to rely heavily on corporate guaranties and liquidity facilities.

Also in August, Chinese regulatory authorities re-committed themselves to a pilot program (Pilot Program) involving China’s “credit asset securitization” (CAS) framework. Unlike the SAMP framework, the CAS framework would result in a U.S.-style securitization that is bankruptcy remote and has familiar securitization parties (sponsor, servicer, trustee, etc.).

The Pilot Program was officially launched in February 2012, followed by a major regulatory release in May 2012. A number of potential securitizers prepared to participate in the Pilot Program, but progress stalled, perhaps related to changes in China’s senior leadership during the same period. Recent indications are that the Pilot Program is back on track, and could result in as many as 20 participating institutions collectively issuing up to U.S. $49 billion in asset-backed securities during the first half of 2014.

On August 28, 2013, a representative of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) issued a statement that “n order to better support economic growth, we have to deepen reform and encourage innovation. We have to speed up development of asset securitization.”

Brief History of Securitization in China
China’s original interest in securitization as a financing technique appears to have been based on a desire to find a structure capable of removing non-performing loans (NPLs) from bank balance sheets.

The desire to create the legal isolation needed for balance-sheet removal resulted in the PRC Trust Law (Trust Law), introduced in 2001. The Trust Law granted considerable flexibility in establishing trusts, and specifically allowed for the establishment of business trusts.

Following the introduction of the Trust Law, a number of NPL securitizations were undertaken, mostly by state-owned commercial banks and their associated asset-management companies.

In April 2005, the PBOC and the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) released new regulatory measures, entitled “Administration of Pilot Projects for Securitization of Credit Assets Procedures” (Original 2005 Pilot Measures).

The Original 2005 Pilot Measures represented China’s first comprehensive attempt to create a securitization regime that was broadly consistent with U.S. and European Union standards as they existed at the time.

In November 2005, the CBRC released a more comprehensive set of standards, entitled the “Measures for the Supervision and Administration of Credit Assets of Financial Institutions” (2005 Pilot Measures).

Two prominent transactions making use of the 2005 Pilot Measures were launched in December 2005, one by China Construction Bank and one by China Development Bank. These were considered the first Chinese securitizations that embraced international standards.

As the early signs of the financial crisis began to appear, the CBRC released a cautionary notice in February 2008, entitled “Notice of China Banking Regulatory Commission on Further Improving the Management of Credit Assets Securitization Business” (2008 Notice). The 2008 Notice required all participating banks to: pay attention to asset quality and . . . promote securitization activities in line with business strategy and management capacity, sell the securitized assets “in a real sense” so as to make these assets off balance sheet and mitigate credit risk, accurately judge the risk transfer and strictly abide by capital requirements, strengthen risk management and internal controls “thus to ward off operational risk,” work out a proper assessment of loan service performance, and disclose information and protect “investors’ legitimate interests.”

However timely and sound the guidance from the 2008 Notice, it did not prevent the suspension of China’s securitization markets during the ensuing financial crisis.

As noted above, the Pilot Program was re-launched in early 2012. On May 17, 2012, the PBOC, the CBRC and the Ministry of Finance issued a “Notice of Issues Relevant to Further Expansion of the Pilot Program for Securitization of Credit Assets” (2012 Pilot Measures).

Substantive Requirements of the Pilot Measures
Collectively, the Original 2005 Pilot Measures, the 2005 Pilot Measures, the 2008 Notice and the 2012 Pilot Measures (collectively, Pilot Measures) define a securitization framework that is generally similar to that in the U.S. Specifically, the Pilot Measures provide that: asset-backed securities be issued by a special purpose trust administered by an independent trustee, the investors are entitled to decide “major matters that have an influence on their interests” through investor meetings, the property of the special purpose trust is legally isolated from the property of both the sponsor institution and the trustee, the trustee is required, without first having received a demand from the investors, to enforce representations and warranties against the sponsor and compel the repurchase or substitution of non-conforming assets, the trustee may replace the servicer, subject to any contrary instructions given by the investors, the final prospectus be issued at least five business days prior to settlement, annual audited reports be prepared with respect to the securitization, re-securitizations and synthetic securitizations are prohibited, the sponsor must hold at least a 5 percent interest in the “minimum tranche” issued in connection with the securitization, and must hold that interest for the duration of that minimum tranche, the securitization must receive ratings from at least two qualified credit rating agencies, and investors must “establish an internal credit rating system to enhance discretion over the risk profile and reduce the dependence on external rating agencies,” the transaction parties (sponsor and trustee) must make “timely, accurate, truthful and complete information regarding the credit asset securitization” available as required by the investors, and no single investor can own more than 40 percent of a securitization.

Under the Pilot Program, each sponsor’s securitization program must be specifically approved by the CBRC. Both sponsors and trustees are required to have: a good social reputation and operational performance, with no “major irregularities” within the past three years, and a “sound corporate governance structure,” and risk management and internal control systems. In addition, the sponsor must have a “reasonable target and clear strategic planning for the securitization business,” and “professional . . . personnel necessary for carrying out the securitization business.”

It is also worth noting that the Pilot Measures require that a number of ongoing reports on a securitization must be filed with the CRBC. The CBRC is a “prudential regulator” to a greater extent than is the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and it is where most of the required asset-backed securities periodic reports are required to be filed. Thus it may be fair to say that securitizations undertaken under the Pilot Program will be subject to more ongoing regulatory oversight than comparable transactions in the U.S.

Other provisions of the Pilot Measures require a sponsor bank to undertake a securitization in such a manner as to remove the assets from its balance sheet, and to allocate appropriate capital against any risks to the bank of the securitization structure, including the holding of retained interests.

One of the goals of the Pilot Program is to remove assets from bank and large finance company balance sheets, enabling those entities to make more loans. If successful, the Pilot Program could draw more lending back into the larger, more regulated institutions and away from the shadow banking sector. However, the Pilot Program is a purely domestic program that does not allow for cross-border securitizations. This has led some observers to note that, since banks are likely buyers of the asset-backed securities to be issued in the Pilot Program, much of what will be accomplished will simply be shifting assets among banks.

All in all, the Pilot Measures define a framework that, although perhaps not as detailed as that in the U.S. or the European Union, reflects many of the same themes and would seem broadly in line with “international standards” for securitization.

Eligible Assets for Chinese Securitizations
According to a recent report by CLSA, a prominent Asian brokerage and investment group, China is “addicted” to debt. The total debt level (government, commercial and consumer) is over 200 percent of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) and year-over-year debt growth for the first quarter of 2013 was 58 percent, compared to the first quarter of 2012.

Much of this is government debt, particularly local government debt, which represents 35 percent of GDP, although corporate debt and debt of state-owned enterprises are the largest components of China’s debt, together representing 115 percent of GDP.

Consumer debt in China is relatively modest however, accounting for only 31 percent of GDP. This relative low level of consumer debt has been attributed to several factors, including a general “cultural bias against debt,” as well as a lack of a “social safety net system” in China, that encourages individuals to provide their own individual “safety net” through savings.

By way of example, although the home ownership rate in China is between 85 percent and 90 percent (compared to about 65 percent to 70 percent in the U.S.), only 11 percent of Chinese homeowners have a mortgage (China requires a 30 percent to 40 percent downpayment for first-time homebuyers). In the U.S., 70 percent of homeowners have some mortgage debt.

Similarly, only 1 percent of urban Chinese use consumer loans to purchase consumer goods, while 47 percent of U.S. households have installment loans and 46 percent carry a credit card balance.

With respect to automobile financing, roughly 85 percent of new car purchases in the U.S. involve financing, while in China only 6 percent of car purchasers use credit in making the purchase. Meanwhile, China has become the world’s largest car sales market, with 18.1 million units expected to be sold in 2013. The comparable figures for the U.S. and Europe are 16.7 million and 12.1 million, respectively. PricewaterhouseCoopers projects Chinese auto sales will reach 27.7 million units in 2019.

Much of the new consumer debt has been originated in the so-called “shadow banking system,” including small specialty finance companies, “peer-to-peer” lending platforms and a variety of “wealth management products.”

In sum, it would appear that China’s current stock of assets eligible for securitization is heavily weighted toward non-consumer debt, particularly local government and state-owned enterprise debt. These could be securitized through CLO-type transactions, as well as NPL securitizations.

China would seem to have great potential at some point to develop a robust consumer credit securitization industry, although at present the stock of consumer debt is relatively quite low, compared to the U.S. and Europe.

 
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
SEC REG AB II VOTE DELAYED
The SEC removed Regulation AB II from its Open Meeting on February 5, 2014.

According to its amended notice:

The following item will not be considered during the Commission’s Open Meeting on February 5, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.:

The Commission will consider whether to adopt rules revising the disclosure, reporting, and offering process for asset-backed securities. The revisions would require asset-backed issuers to provide enhanced disclosures including information for certain asset classes about each asset in the underlying pool in a standardized, tagged format and revise the shelf offering process and eligibility criteria for asset-backed securities.

Please click here for Sunshine Act Meeting Notice.

 
FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE TALKS VOLCKER RULE AND JOBS
Today, leaders from the five federal regulatory agencies that finalized the Volcker Rule testified before the House Committee on Financial Services on the impact the rule will have on job creation. The witness list included Federal Reserve Board Governor Daniel Tarullo, Securities Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Martin Gruenberg and Commodity Futures Trading Commission Acting Chairman Mark Wetjen.

Witnesses answered questions on the effects of the final rule on the CLO marketplace. Specifically, Members of Congress pressed regulators to find a solution “sooner rather than later,” for legacy CLOs. Additional details can be found in the Committee announcement of the hearing.

In response, Federal Reserve Governor Tarullo stated that (a) the five regulators had formed a “working group” to address any unintended consequences with the final Volcker rule, and (b) that the CLO issues – both with regard to legacy issues and on a go-forward basis, were “at the top of the list” of issues the working group is going to address.

As such, the SFIG Volcker Rule Task Force will be holding a call tomorrow. To participate in the Volcker Task Force or on tomorrow’s call, please email Amanda.Bateman@sfindustry.org.  

 
NATIONAL BANK EXAMINERS TO MONITOR EASING UNDERWRITING STANDARDS
According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), banks’ increased appetite for risk and greater market liquidity has resulted in a continued easing of credit underwriting standards. In the 19th Annual Survey of Credit Underwriting, Treasury Department officials examine the underwriting practices of 86 of the largest national banks and federal savings associations. The survey covers the 18-month period ending on June 30, 2013 and $4.5 trillion in loans or 87 percent of the total in the national bank and federal saving association system. For those loans, portfolios including indirect consumer, credit cards, large corporate, asset-based lending, international and leveraged loans experienced the most underwriting easing. On the opposite end of the spectrum, portfolios that experienced the most tightening were those with high loan–to-value home equity and conventional home equity.

It remains to be seen what regulators will do with the findings, but the Senior Deputy Comptroller and Chief National Bank Examiner made it clear the trend had not gone unnoticed. In a press release announcing the report, John Lyons indicates that examiners “will continue to monitor underwriting standards to ensure they are prudent and are applied consistently regardless of whether loans are underwritten to hold or distribute.”

 
SENATE PASSES MEASURE DELAYING FLOOD INSURANCE PREMIUM INCREASE
On Thursday, January 30, 2014, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (S.1926) cleared the Senate by a 67-32 vote. The prospects for passage in the Republican-controlled House remain unclear, but the debate over who will pay for the nation’s rapidly rising costs for flood damage highlights what scientists say is one of the many risks of climate change. The bill delays certain premium hikes mandated by the Biggert-Waters Act until the Federal Emergency Management Agency completes an affordability study and Congress approves the new premium structure. The 2012 law, the Biggert-Waters Act, ended longstanding federal subsidies for insuring buildings in flood-prone coastal areas. The Senate bill specifically prevents situations where a homebuyer has to pay the fully unsubsidized annual flood insurance premium at closing.
 
 
OFFICE OF FINANCIAL RESEARCH DEFENDS “SPOTLIGHT” ON ASSET MANAGERS
The Office of Financial Research (OFR) is not backing down from a controversial report that it released in September 2013 that is facing strong criticism from Congress and the financial services industry for using incomplete data to ultimately guide policy decisions. The report is accused of implicitly encouraging regulators to increase their surveillance of asset managers engaged in so-called high risk activities. In hearings before the Senate Banking Committee last week and the House Financial Services Committee this week, Director Richard Brenner reiterated the position that his office, established under the Dodd-Frank Act in order to improve access to information in the financial services industry, has been given a “mandate” to do so. He stopped short of condoning any decisions made based on the Asset Management and Financial Stability Report or any others issued by his office, reminding Congress that “the OFR’s responsibilities do not extend to deciding on policy actions.”

 
HOME OWNERSHIP RATE DROPS AGAIN IN DECEMBER
The US Census Bureau reported that the homeownership rate was only at 65.2 percent during the fourth quarter of 2013. That number is 0.2 percentage points lower than the previous year’s fourth quarter and is, in fact, the lowest it has been in the fourth quarter of any year since 1995.

The rental vacancy was 8.2 percent, which was 0.5 percentage points lower than in December 2012. Additional information can be found in the Housing Vacancies and Home Ownership announcement.

 
BIS REPORTS GLOBAL CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS SHRINK IN HALF
The global credit default swaps market declined by about half from 2007 through June 2013, according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in a recent report entitled Trade Finance: Developments and Issues.

Prepared under the direction of John Clark from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the report examines the structure and evolution of the global trade finance market. It reviews the available data sources and what they reveal about the size and evolution of the market, sheds light on the performance and impact of trade finance during recent episodes of funding strains in global markets, and examines how ongoing structural changes may affect the market's future resilience.

 
REPORT STATES LACK OF AGREEMENT AMONGST DEMOCRATIC SENATORS DELAYING GSE REFORM
A Bloomberg news report indicated that the likelihood of passing a bill reforming the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) this year is dwindling because of a lack of agreement amongst Democratic Senators. While the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) has been working with the ranking member of the Committee, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) on draft legislation, the report indicated that some Democratic Senators on the Committee, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), will not support a bill unless it guarantees loans for most buyers. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), who is a sponsor of a GSE reform bill along with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) which is said to be the model for the draft legislation Senators Johnson and Crapo are working on, has indicated that expanding the bill too broadly may impact the bill’s ability to achieve bipartisan support.
 
 
GAO: STUDENT LOAN RATES DIFFICULT TO DETERMINE
A new GAO report, released on January 31, 2014 found that it was extremely difficult to set student loan interest rates in advance so that the government may break even. This is due to the complexity associated with accurately calculating how much loans will cost at any given time. According to the report, expected costs fluctuate greatly over time and actual costs may not be known for as many as 40 years afterwards. They also found that the government expects a $66 billion profit for the loans disbursed over the past five years. The Democrats response to this report confirmed their concerns regarding the government’s position to significantly profit from the student loan programs. Meanwhile, the Republicans on the Congressional education committees found that the report confirmed the absence of a break-even interest rate and the need to tie rates to Treasury notes.

Please see the January 2014 GAO Report on Federal Student Loans for additional information.

 
 
HUD SECRETARY DONOVAN CALLS FOR $5 BILLION AFFORDABLE HOUSING FUND
On February 3, 2014, Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, called for a $5 billion housing trust fund that can support affordable housing production. Speaking at the National Association of Hispanic Professionals meeting in Washington, Secretary Donovan indicated that any legislation reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should include such a fund. One current housing finance overhaul proposal, sponsored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Bob Corker (R-TN), calls for a 5 to 10 basis-point fee on mortgage-backed securities transactions to partially support affordable housing but may fall short of the $5 billion suggested by Secretary Donovan.
 
 
LONG AWAITED FHA E-SIGN POLICY ARRIVES
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) will immediately start accepting electronic signatures on all documents for mortgage insurance endorsements, servicing and loss mitigation, insurance claims and real estate owned property sales. Requests for the agency to allow for e-signatures has been forthcoming as the agency’s share of mortgage volume increased during the housing financial crisis. This new e-sign policy has many benefits for both lenders and consumers. There will be greater e-mortgage adoptions for lenders as well as benefits for those who have already invested in and implemented an e-signature infrastructure. An increase in productivity and efficiency, reduced errors and costs, limited unforeseen surprises, and added opportunities for consumers to review important documents are expected as well.

Please see the January 30 2014 HUD Mortgagee Letter for more information.
 

 
FARM BILL INCLUDES RURAL HOUSING PROGRAM
Borrowers in 900 rural communities are among those that will experience temporary relief now that Congress has passed the Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as the Farm Bill. Included in the five-year legislation passed by the Senate on Tuesday is language preserving their eligibility for Rural Housing Service-backed single family loans. Those communities had grown beyond the population limit of 25,000 and were in danger of losing their “rural” status as previously defined, but will now have until after the 2020 census is completed before any changes are made to the housing program. The bill also increases access to the loans slightly by redefining rural as 35,000 inhabitants, thereby expanding a number of other programs administered by the Office of Rural Development at the US Department of Agriculture.

While the status quo provides borrowers some relief, it remains to be seen what happens to the program should any significant housing finance reform legislation pass before the next census.

 
 
CITY OF RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA SEEKS PARTNERS FOR EMINENT DOMAIN
The city of Richmond, California’s city council has thus far been unable to muster enough votes for its controversial plan to use eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages in order to reduce the amount owed by borrowers. Accordingly, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and other council members who support the plan are trying to use a joint powers authority or JPA. Through JPA, Richmond would ally with other municipalities to adopt the proposal. The JPA would only require majority approval in lieu of a super majority. So far no other municipalities have come forward in support of Richmond’s proposal. Other cities across the country, including Baltimore, MD, Seattle, WA, and Newark, NJ, are analyzing the use of eminent domain to seize mortgages but conventional wisdom indicates that Richmond’s proposal is the most developed. Mayor McLaughlin indicated that under California law, Richmond may form a JPA with cities in other states but their availability to participate would be determined by state law in the state that the municipality is located.

SFIG continues to actively monitor developments with respect to eminent domain. You can find more information about SFIG’s opposition to eminent domain on our website.

 
 
YELLEN SWORN IN AS FIRST WOMAN FED CHAIR
The former Federal Reserve (Fed) Vice Chairman and former President of the San Francisco Fed, Janet Yellen, took the official oath during a brief ceremony Monday morning as the new Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Yellen was nominated by President Obama on October 9, 2014 and confirmed by the Senate on January 6, 2014. She is expected to continue the Fed's policy of maintaining low interest rates while scaling back on the Fed's bond buying program. The Fed recently announced a second $10 billion reduction in bond buying and continues their broader efforts of enhancing responsibility and preserving financial stability. Yellen’s term as chairman will end on February 3, 2018.
 
 
WASHINGTON HAPPENINGS
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Committee Hearing: Oversight of Financial Stability and Data Security

Thursday, February 6, 2014
10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Witnesses include:

  • Honorable Mary J. Miller, Under Secretary for Domestic Finance, Treasury Department
  • Honorable Daniel K. Tarullo, Governor, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
  • Honorable Martin J. Gruenberg, Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
  • Honorable Thomas J. Curry, Comptroller of the Currency, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
  • Honorable Mary Jo White, Chair, Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Honorable Mark Wetjen, Acting Chairman, Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Additional details including a webcast of the hearing can be found on the committee website.

 
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Technical Advisory Committee Meeting

Monday, February 10, 2014
10 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.

According to the agenda found on the CFTC website, there will be 3 panels discussing the following topics:

  • Swap Data Reporting
  • Commission’s Concept Release on Automated Trading
  • Swap Execution Facilities / Made Available- to- Trade Determinations

The meeting is open to the public. To learn more about participating, please refer to the CFTC’s announcement of the meeting.

 
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Global Markets Advisory Committee Meeting

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
2 p.m. - 5 p.m.

The purpose is to discuss the applicability of certain Commission regulations in certain cross-border situations. Members of the public who wish to submit written statements in connection with the meeting should submit them by February 6, 2014. Details on how to do so as well as the call-in information for those wishing to participate in the meeting on February 11, 2014 can be found in the Federal Register Notice of Meeting.

 

SFIG COMMITTEES AND TASK FORCES

SFIG has a number of Committees and Task Forces meeting and working on many topics of interest to the securitization industry.  Please visit our website for more information, including how to join.

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SFIG is pleased to share this edition of its newsletter with our members, as well as our supporters in the structured finance community.  To ensure that you receive future editions of the newsletter, please visit our website to learn about membership opportunities.

 

Contact Information

Richard Johns for all matters

Kristi Leo for Investor related matters

Sairah Burki for ABS Policy related matters

Sonny Abbasi for MBS Policy related matters

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