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Cordray Addresses Congressional Praise, Concerns

Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, met with general praise and a few pointed concerns Thursday when he addressed the Senate Banking Committee when he presented the agency├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós semi-annual report. While most members of the committee praised the Bureau├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós progress thus far, a few questioned the extent of its authority and the implications of some of its actions. He said the agency has received 72,297 consumer complaints thus far, noting that complaints have ramped up over the past year.

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FOMC Adopts Somewhat Familiar Stimulus Plan

Fed

The Federal Open Market Committee announced Thursday a new plan to stimulate a moribund economy continuing two earlier plans which at best stopped the economy from contracting. The FOMC said it would keep the federal funds rate near zero into mid-2015, six months longer than it had said previously. Separately, later in the day, the Fed issued its projections for the economy out to 2015, a more optimistic outlook than previous forecasts. The Fed painted a grim picture of the economy.

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ICBA Makes Case for Community Bank Exemptions Under CFPB

Community banks should be exempt from pending regulations on high-cost mortgages since they were not responsible for the mortgage crises, the Independent Community Bankers of America stated in a release. In July, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced it was proposing rules for high-cost mortgages, which would be determined based on interest rates, points and fees, or prepayment penalties. The proposals for high-cost mortgages include a ban on prepayment penalties and a general ban on balloon payments. Late fees would be capped.

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Isaac Pushes Up First-Time Unemployment Claims

First time claims for unemployment jumped 15,000 to 382,000 for the week ended September 8, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Several states reported increases in initial claims, as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac, which increased the total by about 9,000. Several states "reported increases in initial claims, "as a result of Tropical Storm Isaac," which increased the total by about 9,000. Economists had predicted a smaller increase, to 370,000.

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Freddie: Don’t Expect Fuel Prices to Kill Recovery

Freddie

While Americans may be feeling pain at the pumps, Freddie Mac doesn├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ót believe the recent increase in gas prices will have a huge impact on the economy. In the GSE├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós most recent U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook, Freddie Mac VP and chief economist Frank Nothaft looked at energy costs and their potential effects on the economic recovery. The U.S. Department of Energy reported that gas prices averaged $3.84 per gallon on September 3, up about $0.50 over the past two months.

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Mortgage Applications Soar as Interest Rates Fall

Mortgage applications shot up 11.1 percent from the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The trade group found that mortgage loan volume fell by 12 percent on a seasonally unadjusted basis from the week before. According to their indices, refinance volume and purchases went up 12 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Purchases fell more than 15 percent on an unadjusted basis, although it stayed 7 percent higher than figures seen at the same time last year.

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Existing Improvement May Increase as FHFA Updates Rules

The housing market is seeing signs of recovery, and this recovery may be bolstered by the new representation and warranty framework the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Tuesday, according to Fitch. Relying on signing offers and home tours as a future indicator of home sales, Redfin, a technology-driven real estate broker, predicts the market improvement seen this summer will continue into the fall. Offers fell 4 percent in August.

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Will a Sluggish Recovery Cripple Economic Growth?

Though the Great Recession officially ended three years ago, weakened aggregate income is keeping Americans from climbing out of the income slump that resulted. So said Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research group in its latest edition of Housing Insights. In the report, the research group turned its eye to average and aggregate earnings in the last five business cycles to examine the impact of weakened income growth in the current economic recovery.

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Treasury to Receive Billions in Return from AIG Stock

After bailing out American International Group, Inc. at a price tag of $182.3 billion, Treasury and the Federal Reserve are expecting to see their full investment back, plus a return. On Monday, Treasury estimated a return of $12.4 billion after selling about $18 billion in shares. On Tuesday, Treasury then announced it expects to see an additional $2.7 billion after underwriters exercised their over-allotment option to purchase more shares. Treasury's proceeds from the public offering are expected to reach $20.7 billion.

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Fixed-Rate Mortgages Climb Higher This Week: Zillow

Interest rates for home loans climbed higher this week, just as the European Central Bank intervened to shore up the struggling economy overseas with more euro bonds and a weak jobs report quieted investors abroad. Real estate website Zillow reported that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked up to 3.38 percent, up two basis points from 3.36 last week. The benchmark home loan had fallen and hovered somewhere between 3.36 percent and 3.41 percent over the weekend. Interest rates for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage went up to 2.75 percent.

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