OVERNIGHT MONEY: Focus on housing finance

TUESDAY'S BIG STORY: 

Moving forward: House and Senate committees on Tuesday will examine different parts of the housing finance system as the effort to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac picks up steam. 

The Senate Banking Committee will continue chatting about the issue in what is expected to be a flurry of activity over the next several weeks as panel Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) take steps toward producing a bill in their committee that can gain congressional and White House approval at some point in the near future. 

It seems that the interest in completing the long-awaited and complex action of a housing finance reform bill is finally heating up again. 

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Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have crafted what is being considered as a base bill for lawmakers. It is expected to be changed as the process moves forward. 

Last week, Warner suggested that Senate Banking panel should aim to complete a bill by the end of next month and encourage the House to make the necessary changes to get its version through the lower chamber. 

Speaking of which, the House Financial Services Committee will chat with Federal Housing Administration Director Carol Galante about the financial woes at her agency. The FHA needed a $1.7 billion cash injection from Treasury at the start of the fiscal year to balance out its books, but Galante has said that the agency's book of business is much brighter than it appears.  

The House and Senate are expected to include some changes to the FHA as part of any housing finance bill, although the agency is expected to retain its basic mission — making sure moderate-income Americans can buy a home and being on hand to keep the mortgage market functioning, as it has done the past several years, in case of a crisis. 

The hearings are happening amid a huge Mortgage Bankers Association conference in Washington that is focusing on all of the issues facing the industry and how to move back toward a market that is more reliant on private instead of government investment. 

Housing Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, will discuss efforts to reshape Fannie and Freddie at the conference on Tuesday. 

 

WHAT ELSE WE'RE WATCHING

Consumer watch: A House Financial Services subcommittee will discuss on Tuesday legislative proposals that would make changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

 

LOOSE CHANGE

Stamped Out: The liberal magazine The Nation has unveiled a novel new fundraising plea for readers: Republicans are trying to run the Postal Service into the ground, and now we have to pay for it.

In its new message to readers, The Nation says the USPS’s proposed price increases would amount to a “crippling hike in postal fees that’s going to cost $120,272 that we simply do not have."

The Postal Service is pushing for an emergency price increase that would go beyond the rate of inflation, something postal officials say is needed because Congress has yet to reach a deal to help the service deal with all its red ink.

The publishing industry and other sectors that rely on the mail — banks, for instance — have slammed the USPS for seeking the price increase, saying it will do little more than drive away the agency’s best customers.

Republicans and Democrats have yet to find common ground on some of the knottier issues facing the Postal Service, such as how much or if the agency should prefund for future retirees’ healthcare, and whether Saturday delivery should be limited.

But top GOP lawmakers like House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) stress that they’re looking to solidify the USPS’s finances with cost-cutting reforms — not send it into privatization, as some on the left insist.

 

ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Retail sales: The Commerce Department will release its September report measuring the total receipts of retail stores. Sales figures are widely followed as the most timely indicator of broad consumer spending patterns, which represent 70 of economic activity.  

Producer Price Index (PPI): The Labor Department will release its September report that tracks the prices of goods at the wholesale level. The market tracks PPI closely because it represents prices for goods that are ready to sell to consumers.   

S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Index: Home prices probably ticked up in August in the nation's 20 largest metropolitan areas, a housing price index report could say on Tuesday. 

Business inventories: The Commerce Department will release its August report on sales and inventory from all three stages of the manufacturing process: manufacturing, wholesale and retail.

Consumer confidence: The Conference Board's report could show that confidence dropped in October during the 16-day government shutdown. The report can be helpful in predicting shifts in consumer spending.

 

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

— White House makes push on Watt nomination

— Thirty-nine senators urge farm bill conference to reject food stamp cuts

— Manufacturers press for tax reform in budget talks

— Regulators vow to work with industry on mortgage rules

— Contract signings hit nine-month low

— Dems demand refund from ObamaCare website contractors

— House to punish VA by cutting bonuses

 

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