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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee


A look at news across HousingWire's weekend desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues:

On Saturday, R.K. Arnold retired as president and chief executive of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. Paul Bognanno was named to serve as interim president and CEO until a replacement is found.

Arnold helped develop MERS, which is a registry of home ownership and other mortgage rights for more than half of all outstanding residential mortgages in the U.S. The company was founded in 1995 and is based in Reston, Va.

MERS is owned by the largest players in mortgage finance: Bank of America (BAC: 14.25 0.00%), JPMorgan Chase (JPM: 45.29 0.00%), Citigroup (C: 4.89 0.00%), Wells Fargo (WFC: 32.51 0.00%), as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Arnold joined MERS as senior vice president and general counsel in 1996 and was named president two years later. Bognanno had been chairman of Radian Guaranty, a private mortgage insurer based in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, the Federal Open Market Committee convenes for another meeting and the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index is released. The Fed will then announce its latest monetary policy decision Wednesday afternoon.

President Obama is set to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday night. Several reports over the weekend said the administration's long-awaited proposal on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won't come before the end of January, as expected.

The Wall Street Journal reported turnover within the White House staff and an inability to reach a consensus have hindered the administration's recommendation. As mandated under Dodd-Frank, the report on the government-sponsored enterprises from the Treasury Department was due to Congress by the end of January.

Reuters quoted an official saying "it would not be unreasonable for something this complex and this far-reaching to be pushed back a little bit." It now appears the administration will provide its plan for the GSEs by the middle of February.

HousingWire's February issue explores the coming changes to the GSEs, weighing all sides and delving deep into what market participants hope to see, expect will happen and plan to do once the changes take root.

Federal judges in Delaware are set to rule Monday on requests by two defunct subprime mortgage lenders to destroy thousands of boxes of documents, according to a Reuters report. The bankruptcy court judges will deliver rulings amid the whirlwind surrounding the foreclosure process continues.

In October, the nation's largest mortgage lenders suspended foreclosures after employees were found to be signing affidavits en masse without properly reviewing the documentation as required by law. The banks restarted the foreclosure process and Bank of America resumed selling foreclosure properties in most states that have a nonjudicial process.

Regulators closed four banks last week. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. estimates the total cost to its deposit insurance fund of about 4.9 million. Seven banks have failed so far in 2011 after nearly 300 institutions failed over the prior two years.

The Georgia Department of Banking and Finance closed Enterprise Banking Co. of McDonough, Ga., and the FDIC was appointed receiver. At Sept. 30, Enterprise Banking had 0.9 million in total assets and .5 million in total deposits. The FDIC created the Deposit Insurance National Bank of McDonough that will remain open until Friday to allow depositors access to their insured deposits and time to open accounts at other insured financial institutions.

The South Carolina State Board of Financial Institutions closed CommunitySouth Bank and Trust of Easley, S.C. The FDIC signed an agreement with CertusBank, a new unit of Blue Ridge Holdings Inc. of Charlotte, to assume all of the deposits and most of the assets of CommunitySouth. At Sept. 30, CommunitySouth Bank and Trust had about 0.6 million in total assets and 2.4 million in total deposits.

The North Carolina Office of Commissioner of Banks closed The Bank of Asheville, in Asheville, N.C. The FDIC signed an agreement with First Bank, Troy, N.C., to assume all of the deposits and essentially all the assets of the closed entity. The Bank of Asheville listed assets of 5.1 million and deposits of 8.3 million as of Sept. 30.

The Office of Thrift Supervision closed United Western Bank of Denver. First-Citizens Bank & Trust, Raleigh, N.C., agreed to assume all the deposits and nearly all the assets of the failed bank. United Western reported total assets of .05 billion with deposits of .65 billion as of Sept. 30.

Write to Jason Philyaw.


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