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SIFMA Makes Agency Bond Pricing Available to Individual Investors

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) is now carrying price data for approximately 25,000 federal agency bonds on its Investing in Bonds Web site. The new data is available via a feed from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) following an expansion of its Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine (TRACE) to include debt issued by federal government agencies, government corporations, and the GSEs.

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Americans Strongly Support Government Housing Initiatives: Survey

Americans remain strongly committed to federal support for homebuyers, and many believe the government should provide more protection against foreclosure, according to the results of a recent survey published by the National Association of Home Builders. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed say they are planning to buy a home in the near future. Personal financial concerns, as well as weakness in the housing market itself, were cited as reasons this statistic wasn't higher.

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U.S. Treasury Advisors Join The Cypress Group

One of the first senior-level officials to leave the Treasury Department since President Obama took office is headed to The Cypress Group as a congressional lobbyist. Damon Munchus, who served as the deputy assistant secretary for banking and finance, will open the Cypress Group's New York office as a managing director. The firm is also opening an office in Dallas headed by Jeb Mason, managing director. Mason served as the Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for business affairs under former Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr.

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FDIC Selling $610M in Seized Loans

The FDIC is preparing to auction off a portfolio of loans it acquired from 19 failed bank takeovers. According to a preliminary announcement regarding the sale, the portfolio consists primarily of residential real estate acquisition, development, and construction loans with unpaid principal balances totaling approximately $610 million. About 80 percent of the loans are past due and classified as nonperforming.

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Administration’s Refinance Program Gets One-Year Extension

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is extending the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) through June 30, 2011. HARP is a key component of the Obama administration's foreclosure prevention efforts. It provides mortgage refinancing to borrowers whose homes have lost value and now find themselves owing more than the home is worth. Several industry groups have been lobbying FHFA to extend the program, arguing that it keeps creditworthy, performing borrowers out of unnecessary foreclosure.

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Fannie’s Losses Widen, Prompting Request for More Federal Funding

Fannie Mae says it needs another $15.3 billion bailout from the U.S. Treasury, after the GSE came up $16.3 billion in the red for the fourth quarter of 2009 and posted a loss of $74.4 billion for all of last year. Although the housing crisis is showing signs of lessening in some major markets, it continues to take its toll on the nation's largest mortgage financier. Fannie Mae's 2009 annual losses widened compared to the $59.8 billion deficit recorded for 2008, and its Q4 results marked the GSE's tenth consecutive quarterly shortfall.

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HUD Launches Online Tool to Fight Loan Modification Scams

Loan modification scams are on the rise, but HUD is taking action to put these con artists out of business. Preventloanscams.org was recently launched by the federal agency in partnership with a national coalition of public and private enterprises. The new system allows for better analysis of fraud trends across jurisdictional lines, which HUD says will likely lead to an increase in private enforcement action filings. Officials estimate that this online tool will assist approximately 50,000 homeowners who've been victimized by loan modification scams.

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Nevada, Washington Banks Closed by Regulators

Regulators shut the doors on Carson River Community Bank in Carson City, Nevada and Rainier Pacific Bank in Tacoma, Washington over the weekend. So far in 2010, 22 FDIC-insured institutions have landed on the agency's failed bank list. A separate FDIC list holds the names of banks the federal agency considers to be at-risk of failure. This ""problem list"" grew 27 percent from the third to fourth quarters of last year, to 702.

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Industry Voices Concern over New Securitization Rule

The FDIC has requested comments from the industry on a new regulation that would limit safe harbor protections for assets, including mortgages, which have been securitized by failed banks. FDIC officials say the rule would return some confidence to the tenuous secondary market, but industry trade groups argue that it could have a counter effect of creating ""substantial uncertainty"" for investors and stifle an important financing channel.

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