SEC’s Schapiro: Risk-retention rule exemptions still taking shape

by KERRI PANCHUK –Housingwire

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro said it is still unknown how the final 5% risk-retention rule will shape up, but said regulators are reviewing all feedback during the current comment period.

The risk-retention rule will require financial institutions to maintain a stake in the credit risk on securities backed by mortgages that don’t meet the qualified residential mortgage.

As far as what exceptions may be made for organizations to steer away from having to  maintain a 5% interest, Schapiro said the SEC was flexible in asking a lot of questions on possible exceptions and is reviewing all feedback. "I have no idea where that will land," she said, when responding to how the open comment period will shape the rule.

Regulators proposed last week that securitizers be exempt from the 5% risk-retention rule on mortgages that meet QRM standards — mortgages with 20% down payments, among other guidelines. Mortgage insurers and other parties have advocated for additional exceptions, including the presence of mortgage insurance.

While speaking to reporters at the 2011 Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference at Southern Methodist University in Dallas Friday, Schapiro also told the assembled journalists that her agency is trying to implement Dodd-Frank mandates and make structural changes in the wake of an economic crisis while also dealing with the same headwinds affecting government agencies, namely budgetary issues.

"Funding is important," she said.  "Sometimes as we work to excel in our day-to-day operations, budget concerns prevent us from taking the needed steps. Congress sets our budget and determines if we have the resources we need to investigate investment firms, to track down leads and whistle-blowers and to assume the new duties of the Dodd-Frank Act."

Schapiro also conceded that her office could be at risk of closing if a government shutdown goes into effect Friday evening.

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