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Grassroots Alert
Tell Your Senators to Support Bill Delaying Flood Insurance Rate Hikes
ICBA continues calling on the nation’s community bankers to urge their senators to support legislation to delay sharp increases in National Flood Insurance Program premiums.

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (S. 1846), introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), would delay rate increases for up to four years by giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency time to develop a plan to help property owners who cannot afford higher premiums.

If Congress does not approve S. 1846, dramatic rate increases included in the 2012 Biggert-Waters flood insurance reforms would continue to be implemented. These increases would destabilize the still-recovering housing market in affected areas and negatively affect home values.

Community bankers can use ICBA’s customizable message to Congress to tell their senators to advance S. 1846. In a national news release issued yesterday, ICBA urged senators to pass the bipartisan bill. Contact Your Senators Today!

Janet Yellen Confirmed by Senate for Fed Chairman
The Senate voted to confirm Janet Yellen for Federal Reserve Board chairman. ICBA congratulated Yellen, previously the Fed’s vice chairman, following the vote.

“From her time as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Dr. Yellen has demonstrated a clear understanding of community banks and their unique, relationship-based business model,” ICBA Chairman Bill Loving and ICBA President and CEO Cam Fine said in a statement. “As one of the nation’s most accomplished economists, she also appreciates how community banks support economic growth and stability in communities across the nation.”

Yellen took office as vice chairman of the Fed on Oct. 4, 2010. She also has served as a professor of business and economics at the University of California at Berkeley. Read ICBA Release.

Mel Watt Sworn In as FHFA Director
Former Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) was sworn in as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Watt, who served in Congress for more than 21 years, begins a five-year term as FHFA director. Watt, who was a member of the House Financial Services Committee, replaces former FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco.

This Friday Is Deadline for New CFPB Mortgage Rules
This Friday, Jan. 10, is the compliance deadline for several Consumer Financial Protection Bureau mortgage rules, including regulations requiring banks to determine consumers’ ability to repay their loans. ICBA recently posted new reference charts on the ability-to-repay and qualified mortgage rules and offers additional resources on its Mortgage Rules Resource Page.

Additional information and compliance resources on the new mortgage rules can be found on the CFPB’s Regulatory Implementation webpage. Additionally, community bankers can submit questions to the CFPB at CFPB_reginquiries@cfpb.gov or 202-435-7700.

ICBA NewsWatch Today is sponsored by CNA:
ICBA Member Milestones, brought to you by CNA, recognizes community bank anniversaries and milestones in the January issue of ICBA Independent Banker magazine. CNA understands it takes more than a strong balance sheet to run a successful bank. It takes commitment to the community, dedication to service and flexibility to meet the needs of clients. For more than 100 years, CNA's professionals have worked to build strong relationships and solid business insurance solutions that meet the needs of their clients. For more information on CNA’s programs, visit www.cna.com/communitybanks.

Services-Sector Growth Slows in December
Economic activity in the services sector grew in December at a slower pace than the month before, according to the Institute for Supply Management. ISM’s Non-Manufacturing Index registered 53 percent in December, 0.9 percentage point lower than November's reading. The business-activity index grew more slowly than in November and the new-orders index contracted for the first time since July 2009, though the employment and price indexes increased.

Take This Week’s Quick Poll
Take this week’s Quick Poll on the Target payment-card breach, and view results from the previous poll on arbitration clauses. View the Archive.

ICBA Webinar Tomorrow Features How To Work Out Problem Loans
ICBA is hosting a webinar tomorrow to help community bankers ensure they are properly managing problem loans and protecting their rights. “Problem Loan Workout,” scheduled for 11 a.m. (Eastern time), will focus on the actions community bankers should take when a “good” loan turns “bad” (i.e., the market has turned down, tenants have left and the payments are now delinquent).

The webinar will review the practical steps community banks should take, including negotiating payments, restructuring loans, repossessing or foreclosing on the collateral, filing a lawsuit, forcing the borrower into bankruptcy or simply "walking away." This section will also examine the "outside" influence from the banking regulators. Learn more and Register.

Products and Services
Wyoming Bankers Association Endorses ICBA Securities
The Wyoming Bankers Association endorsed ICBA Securities, ICBA’s broker-dealer subsidiary. WBA is the 35th state banking association to endorse the services of ICBA Securities, which provides fixed-income investment products and services to community banks. ICBA Securities specializes in providing high-quality investment products, services and education to community banks to help to create and maintain a high-performing investment portfolio. Read ICBA Release.

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