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Daily Archives: December 30, 2015

GAO Report – Dodd-Frank Regulations: Impacts on Community Banks and SIFIs

Dodd-Frank Regulations: Impacts on Community Banks, Credit Unions and Systemically Important Institutions, GAO-16-169: Published: Dec 30, 2015. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 2015: “Federal financial agencies conducted required regulatory analyses for rules issued pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) and also reported required coordination. These agencies also addressed key elements of Office of Management and Budget guidance for conducting cost-benefit analyses for rules considered major—rules likely to result in an annual impact on the economy of $100 million or more, among other things. With regard to select Dodd-Frank Act rules expected to have impacts on community banks and credit unions, community banks, credit unions, and industry associations GAO interviewed cited an increase in compliance burden associated with these rules. This included increases in staff, training, and time allocation for regulatory compliance and updates to compliance systems. Some of these industry officials also reported a decline in specific business activities, such as loans that are not qualified mortgages, due to fear of litigation or not being able to sell those loans to secondary markets. The results of surveys we reviewed suggest that there have been moderate to minimal initial reductions in the availability of credit among those responding to the various surveys and regulatory data to date have not confirmed a negative impact on mortgage lending. However, these results do not necessarily rule out significant effects or the possibility that effects may arise in the future. Federal financial regulators are conducting retrospective analyses of Dodd-Frank Act rules on small entities. GAO developed indicators associated with resources used to comply with regulations and with business lines that may be affected by Dodd-Frank Act regulations to provide baselines against which to monitor future trends. For example, GAO’s indicators suggest that residential mortgage loans as a fraction of assets have generally grown for banks of all sizes and for some smaller credit unions but have decreased for larger credit unions. However, changes in GAO’s indicators may reflect factors other than the influence of Dodd-Frank Act rules, such as consumer demand for credit. The full impact of the Dodd-Frank Act remains uncertain because many of its rules have yet to be implemented and insufficient time has passed to evaluate others. Using recently released data, GAO updated indicators from its prior reports that monitor key risk characteristics of large U.S. bank holding companies, and added new indicators that monitor interconnectedness. Although changes in the indicators are not evidence of causal links to the act’s provisions, some indicators suggest companies’ leverage generally decreased and liquidity generally improved since the act’s passage. GAO’s updated regression analysis suggests that the act has had little effect on the funding costs of these companies and may be associated with improvements in some measures of their safety and soundness. Indicators associated with the act’s swap reforms suggest that holding companies have been requiring their counterparties to post a greater amount of collateral against derivatives contracts. GAO also developed indicators to monitor key risk characteristics of nonbank financial companies designated for supervision by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Because few rules for these companies have been finalized or implemented, these indicators provide a baseline against which to monitor future trends.”

FCC Releases Fifth Measuring Broadband America Report

News release: “The Federal Communications Commission today released the results of its ongoing nationwide performance study of consumers’ fixed broadband Internet access service in its fifth “Measuring Broadband America” report. The report furthers the Commission’s efforts to provide greater transparency about network performance to help consumers make more informed choices about broadband services. This year’s… Continue Reading

Report – Violations of Health Privacy Law Common Widespread and Unchecked

Research and reporting by ProPublica and NPR: “CVS is among hundreds of health providers nationwide that repeatedly violated the federal patient privacy law known as HIPAA between 2011 and 2014, a ProPublica analysis of federal data shows. Other well-known repeat offenders include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Walgreens, Kaiser Permanente and Walmart. And yet,… Continue Reading

Open Pit Mine in Extraordinarily High Peruvian City Poisoning Citizens With Lead

National Geographic: “Latin America over the past decade has seen its mining sector triple in value to $300 billion. Peru’s economy, among the fastest growing, derives one-sixth of its gross domestic product from minerals. At Cerro de Pasco, you can see the entire history of Peruvian mining —and the costs it sometimes imposes: The mine… Continue Reading

NOAA Climate Data Online Search

“The demand for high-value environmental data and information has dramatically increased in recent years. To improve our ability to meet that demand, NOAA’s former three data centers—the National Climatic Data Center, the National Geophysical Data Center, and the National Oceanographic Data Center, which includes the National Coastal Data Development Center—have merged into the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).… Continue Reading

Record breaking North Pole Storm Pushes Temps to 50 degrees

Washington Post: “A powerful winter cyclone — the same storm that lead to two tornado outbreaks in the United States and disastrous river flooding — has driven the North Pole to the freezing point this week, 50 degrees above average for this time of year. From Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning, a mind-boggling pressure drop was recorded… Continue Reading