Congress under pressure to act on subprime meltdown

first_imgWASHINGTON – Charges of blame were flying Thursday for the meltdown of the high-risk mortgage market as pressure mounted for Congress to do something about rising foreclosures among homeowners unable to meet high payments. Under fire from lawmakers, federal regulators said they lacked full authority to prevent the crisis spawned during the soaring housing boom of 2003-2005. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, laid out what he called a “chronology of regulatory neglect” as banks and other lenders loosened their standards for making riskier mortgage loans during the boom. “Our nation’s financial regulators were supposed to be the cops on the beat, protecting hardworking Americans from unscrupulous financial actors,” Dodd said. “Yet they were spectators for far too long.” With millions of homeowners said to be at risk of losing their homes in coming years, the issue took on an increasingly political complexion Thursday. While a number of politicians, consumer advocates and community activists are clamoring for Congress to act, industry interests and some Republican lawmakers are warning that new restrictions on mortgage lending could choke off credit to those who most need it. Away from the hearing, Democratic presidential contender Sen. Barack Obama called on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to convene a “homeownership preservation summit” bringing together major players for the purpose of stemming the foreclosure tide. “We cannot sit on the sidelines while increasing numbers of American families face the risk of losing their homes,” Obama said. Dodd, who also is seeking the party’s presidential nomination, warned at the hearing that some 2.2 million homeowners could lose their homes in the next few years. Acknowledged Roger Cole, head of the Federal Reserve’s banking supervision division, “I will say that given what we know now, yes, we could have done more sooner.” Under pointed questioning from Dodd, Cole promised to put in motion a process at the central bank that could lead to a broadening of federal rules governing mortgage lending standards. A patchwork of federal and state regulatory agencies hold jurisdiction over financial companies, putting many subprime mortgage lenders outside of stringent regulation, the regulators said. Earlier this month, the Fed and the other four federal agencies that regulate banks, thrifts and credit unions called on lenders to exercise caution in making subprime mortgage loans. The regulators said the guidelines, if formally adopted by the agencies and followed by lending institutions, could result in fewer borrowers qualifying for subprime loans. Dodd said he wanted to know why it took the regulators more than three years to act “despite evidence that they themselves identified problems in the subprime market.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Many mortgage lenders haven’t come under the Federal Reserve’s supervision because their primary regulators are state banking authorities. However, Dodd and others maintain, the central bank does have authority under federal law to exert jurisdiction over those companies and broaden lending regulations to cover them. Some of the biggest companies in the so-called subprime mortgage market were called to account before the banking panel. The distress in subprime mortgages – higher-priced home loans for people with tarnished credit or low incomes who are considered greater risks – has roiled financial markets and stoked anxiety that it could spill over into the broader economy. Company executives said they had tightened their lending practices and eliminated some higher-risk types of mortgages and urged Congress not to rush in and overreact. “We take the situation very seriously and we’re taking strong steps” to correct problems, testified Brendan McDonagh, the chief executive of HSBC Finance Corp. last_img read more

"Congress under pressure to act on subprime meltdown"

Cat shelter findings Less stress with box access

first_img Citation: Cat shelter findings: Less stress with box access (2015, February 8) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-02-cat-stress-access.html © 2015 Phys.org Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Applied Animal Behaviour Science More information: Applied Animal Behaviour Science, www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com … 0236-6/abstract?cc=y Out of all those cat videos that keep your eyes glued to the screen far longer than you would care to acknowledge, you may have seen some showing little and big cats trying their best to snuggle into big and too-little cardboard boxes. What makes them so content about being in a box? Scientists have spent much time looking for answers. “Will a hiding box provide stress reduction for shelter cats?” That is one such exploration, published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the journal of the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE). The three authors, from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Utrecht, studied stress in shelter cats and found that hiding boxes reduced stress, at least on the short term. They chose shelters as their investigation site because that is where the stress levels for domestic cats can be serious. The researchers assessed the effect of a hiding box on stress levels of newly arrived cats in a Dutch animal shelter. Ten cats had a box; nine did not. They found a significant difference between the two groups on observation days 3 and 4. The cats with the hiding box were able to recover faster in their new environment.Writing in Wired, Bryan Gardiner took up the topic of why cats love boxes, discussing the researchers’ findings as well as other explorations into the way cats love scampering and even squeezing into boxes. One of the authors of the Dutch cat shelter paper, Claudia Vinke, was quoted in Wired: “Hiding is a behavioral strategy of the species to cope with environmental changes and stressors,” Vinke said in her email. Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in their observations about cat shelters and stress, said that “cats benefit greatly from the ability to hide when stressed. In shelters, this can be accomplished in a variety of ways, with a range of costs and benefits.” One type of hiding spot which they recommended was a “hiding box” which they said could be “a cardboard box, a specially designed Hide-Perch-and-Go box, a sturdier plastic box or cage insert, a plastic carrier, or a commercially available “cat den.” The Cornell site said that while cardboard boxes are inexpensive, they cannot be cleaned, and must only be used for one cat before being discarded or recycled. Gardiner in Wired made the point that boxes are not the only enclosures that attract cats; bowls, a bathroom sink, or other enclosures seem to work, too. Gardiner also made the point that cats scramble for such enclosures in a fundamental search not merely to feel psychologically cozy but for heat.”According to a 2006 study by the National Research Council, the thermoneutral zone for a domestic cat is 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the range of temperatures in which cats are ‘comfortable’ and don’t have to generate extra heat to keep warm or expend metabolic energy on cooling.” Corrugated cardboard, he added, is a good insulator; if the box is a tight squeeze so much the better; it may “force the cat to ball up or form some other impossible object, which in turn helps it to preserve body heat.” A cat’s game of hide and seeklast_img read more

"Cat shelter findings Less stress with box access"