DO YOU HAVE A FANNIE MAE LOAN?

Fannie Mae Announces its Own Foreclosure Prevention Plan Under HAFA

by AUSTIN KILGORE HousingWire

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010, 5:07 pm

[Update 1: Corrects current cash incentives for Treasury HAFA]

Fannie Mae (FNM: 0.94 -2.08%) announced its version of the Making Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) program Tuesday, implementing the program for all conventional mortgages that are held in Fannie’s portfolio, that are part of an mortgage-backed security (MBS) pool with a special servicing option, or that are part of a shared-risk MBS pool for which Fannie Mae markets the acquired property.

The Fannie Mae program takes effect August 1, 2010 and is designed to mitigate the impact of foreclosures on borrowers who are eligible for a loan modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) but were unsuccessful in obtaining one, Fannie said. Like the Treasury Department‘s HAFA program, servicers cannot consider a borrower for HAFA until the borrower is evaluated and eliminated from eligibility for a Making Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) workout plan.

Also like the Treasury program, Fannie Mae will offer servicers cash incentives for completed HAFA transactions, $2,200 for short sales and $1,200 for deed-in-lieu of foreclosure agreements. Borrowers are also eligible for $3,000 in incentives.

That’s more than in the Treasury’s HAFA program, where servicers are eligible for $1,500. Under the Treasury program, borrowers receive $3,000. In addition, the investor is also eligible for a maximum of $2,000 incentive.

Participating servicers will be required to report on their Fannie Mae HAFA activities to both Fannie and the Treasury and the program sunsets on December 31, 2012.

After announcing the program in October 2009, Treasury’s HAFA program began in April. The Fannie Mae HAFA program is the latest in a string of programs designed to help borrowers avoid foreclosure. In addition to HAFA and HAMP workouts, Fannie Mae is letting some distressed borrowers stay in their homes as renters, under the deed for lease (D4L) program.

Under D4L, the homeowner-turned-renter is required to pay fair market rent to stay in their home for up to 12 months. The renter must have enough income to sustain a 31% income-to-rent ratio and rental payments are not subsidized by Fannie Mae, but could include renters eligible for Section 8 payments.

Also, in March 2010, Fannie Mae instructed its servicers to consider an “alternative modifications” for all mortgages that did not qualify for a permanent conversion under HAMP. That “Alt Mod” program, which sunsets on August 31, 2010, is similar to HAFA.

Write to Austin Kilgore.

The author held no relevant investments.

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Was There a Plan to Blow Up the Economy? The Subprime Conspiracy: COUNTERPUNCH

May 3, 2010

Was There a Plan to Blow Up the Economy?

The Subprime Conspiracy

By MIKE WHITNEY

Many people now believe that the financial crisis was not an accident. They think that the Bush administration and the Fed knew what Wall Street was up to and provided their support. This isn’t as far fetched as it sounds. As we will show, it’s clear that Bush, Greenspan and many other high-ranking officials understood the problem with subprime mortgages and knew that a huge asset bubble was emerging that threatened the economy. But while the housing bubble was more than just an innocent mistake, it doesn’t rise to the level of “conspiracy” which Webster defines as  “a secret agreement between two or more people to perform an unlawful act.”  It’s actually worse than that, because bubblemaking is the dominant policy, and it’s used to overcome structural problems in capitalism itself, mainly stagnation.

The whole idea of a conspiracy diverts attention from what really happened. It conjures up a comical vision of  top-hat business tycoons gathered in a smoke-filled room stealthily mapping out the country’s future. It ignores the fact, that the main stakeholders don’t need to convene a meeting to know what they want. They already know what they want; they want a process that helps them to maintain profitability even while the “real” economy remains stuck in the mud.  Historian Robert Brenner has written extensively on this topic and dispels the mistaken view that the economy is “fundamentally strong”. (in the words of former Treasury secretary Henry Paulson)  Here’s Brenner :

“The current crisis is more serious than the worst previous recession of the postwar period, between 1979 and 1982, and could conceivably come to rival the Great Depression, though there is no way of really knowing. Economic forecasters have underestimated how bad it is because they have over-estimated the strength of the real economy and failed to take into account the extent of its dependence upon a buildup of debt that relied on asset price bubbles.

“In the U.S., during the recent business cycle of the years 2001-2007, GDP growth was by far the slowest of the postwar epoch. There was no increase in private sector employment. The increase in plants and equipment was about a third of the previous, a postwar low. Real wages were basically flat. There was no increase in median family income for the first time since World War II. Economic growth was driven entirely by personal consumption and residential investment, made possible by easy credit and rising house prices. Economic performance was weak, even despite the enormous stimulus from the housing bubble and the Bush administration’s huge federal deficits. Housing by itself accounted for almost one-third of the growth of GDP and close to half of the increase in employment in the years 2001-2005. It was, therefore, to be expected that when the housing bubble burst, consumption and residential investment would fall, and the economy would plunge. ” (“Overproduction not Financial Collapse is the Heart of the Crisis”, Robert P. Brenner speaks with Jeong Seong-jin, Asia Pacific Journal)

What Brenner describes is an economy \that–despite unfunded tax cuts, massive military spending and gigantic asset bubbles–can barely produce positive growth.  The pervasive lethargy of mature capitalist economies poses huge challenges for industry bosses who are judged solely on their ability to boost quarterly profits. Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein and JPM’s Jamie Dimon could care less about economic theory, what they’re interested in is making money; how to deploy their capital in a way that maximizes return on investment. “Profits”, that’s it.  And that’s much more difficult in a world that’s beset by overcapacity and flagging demand.  The world doesn’t need more widgets or widget-makers. The only way to ensure profitability is to invent an alternate system altogether, a new universe of financial exotica (CDOs, MBSs, CDSs) that operates independent of the sluggish real economy. Financialization provides that opportunity. It allows the main players to pump-up the leverage, minimize capital-outlay, inflate asset prices, and skim off record profits even while the real  economy endures severe stagnation.

Financialization provides a  path to wealth creation, which is why the sector’s portion of total corporate profits is now nearly 40 per cent. It’s a way to bypass the pervasive inertia of the production-oriented economy. The Fed’s role in this new paradigm is to create a hospitable environment (low interest rates) for bubble-making so the upward transfer of wealth can continue without interruption. Bubblemaking is policy.

As we’ve pointed out in earlier articles, scores of people knew what was going on during the subprime fiasco. But it’s worth a quick review, because Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, Timothy Geithner, and others have been defending themselves saying, “Who could have known?”.

The FBI knew (“In September 2004, the FBI began publicly warning that there was an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud, and it predicted that it would produce an economic crisis, if it were not dealt with.”) The FDIC knew. ( In testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, FDIC chairman Sheila Bair confirmed that she not only warned the Fed of what was going on in 2001, but cited particular regulations (HOEPA) under which the Fed could stop the “unfair, abusive and deceptive practices” by the banks.) Also Fitch ratings knew, and even Alan Greenspan’s good friend and former Fed governor Ed Gramlich knew. (Gramlich personally warned Greenspan of the surge in predatory lending that was apparent as early as 2000. Here’s a bit of what Gramlich said in the Wall Street Journal:

“I would have liked the Fed to be a leader” in cracking down on predatory lending, Mr. Gramlich, now a scholar at the Urban Institute, said in an interview this past week. Knowing it would be controversial with Mr. Greenspan, whose deregulatory philosophy is well known, Mr. Gramlich broached it to him personally rather than take it to the full board. “He was opposed to it, so I didn’t really pursue it,” says Mr. Gramlich. (Wall Street Journal)

So, Greenspan knew, too. And, according to Elizabeth MacDonald  in an article titled “Housing Red flags Ignored”:

“One of the nation’s biggest mortgage industry players repeatedly warned the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and other bank regulators during the housing bubble that the U.S. faced an imminent housing crash….But bank regulators not only ignored the group’s warnings, top Fed officials also went on the airwaves to say the economy was “building on a sturdy foundation” and a housing crash was “unlikely.”

So, the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America [MICA] also knew. And, here’s a clip from the Washington Post by former New York governor Eliot Spitzer who accused Bush of being a ‘partner in crime’ in the subprime fiasco. Spitzer says that the OCC launched “an unprecedented assault on state legislatures, as well as on state attorneys general just to make sure the looting would continue without interruption. Here’s an except from Spitzer’s article:

“In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis….the OCC promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government’s actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules. (Washington Post)

So, the Fed knew, the Treasury knew, the FBI knew, the OCC knew, the FDIC knew, Bush knew, the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America knew, Fitch ratings knew, all the states Attorneys General knew, and thousands, of traders, lenders, ratings agency executives, bankers, hedge fund managers, private equity bosses, regulators knew. Everyone knew, except the unlucky people who were victimized in the biggest looting operation of all time.

Once again, looking for conspiracy, just diverts attention from the nature of the crime itself. Here’s a statement from former regulator and white collar criminologist William K. Black which helps to clarify the point:

“Fraudulent lenders produce exceptional short-term ‘profits’ through a four-part strategy: extreme growth (Ponzi), lending to uncreditworthy borrowers, extreme leverage, and minimal loss reserves. These exceptional ‘profits’ defeat regulatory restrictions and turn private market discipline perverse. The profits also allow the CEO to convert firm assets for personal benefit through seemingly normal compensation mechanisms. The short-term profits cause stock options to appreciate. Fraudulent CEOs following this strategy are guaranteed extraordinary income while minimizing risks of detection and prosecution.” (William K. Black,“Epidemics of’Control Fraud’ Lead to Recurrent, Intensifying Bubbles andCrises”, University of Missouri at Kansas City – School of Law)

Black’s definition of “control fraud” comes very close to describing what really took place during the subprime mortgage frenzy. The investment banks and other financial institutions bulked up on garbage loans and complex securities backed by dodgy mortgages so they could increase leverage and rake off large bonuses for themselves. Clearly, they knew the underlying collateral was junk, just as they knew that eventually the market would crash and millions of people would suffer.

But, while it’s true that Greenspan and Wall Street knew how the bubble-game was played; they had no intention of blowing up the whole system. They simply wanted to inflate the bubble, make their profits, and get out before the inevitable crash.  But, then something went wrong. When Lehman collapsed, the entire financial system suffered a major heart attack. All of the so-called “experts” models turned out to be wrong.

Here’s what happened: Before to the meltdown, the depository “regulated” banks got their funding through the repo market by exchanging collateral (mainly mortgage-backed securities) for short-term loans with the so-called “shadow banks” (investment banks, hedge funds, insurers) But after Lehman defaulted, the funding stream was severely impaired because the prices on mortgage-backed securities kept falling. When the bank-funding system went on the fritz,  stocks went into a nosedive sending panicky investors fleeing for the exits. As unbelievable as it sounds, no one saw this coming.

The reason that no one anticipated a run on the shadow banking system is because the basic architecture of the financial markets has changed dramatically in the last decade due to deregulation. The fundamental structure is different and the traditional stopgaps have been removed. That’s why no one knew what to do during the panic. The general assumption was that there would be a one-to-one relationship between defaulting subprime mortgages and defaulting mortgage-backed securities (MBS). That turned out to be a grave miscalculation. The subprimes were only failing at roughly 8 percent rate when the whole secondary market collapsed. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill explained it best using a clever analogy. He said, “It’s like you have 8 bottles of water and just one of them has arsenic in it. It becomes impossible to sell any of the other bottles because no one knows which one contains the poison.”

And that’s exactly what happened. The market for structured debt crashed, stocks began to plummet, and the Fed had to step in to save the system. Unfortunately, that same deeply-flawed system is being rebuilt brick by brick without any substantive changes.. The Fed and Treasury support this effort, because–as agents of the banks–they are willing to sacrifice their own credibility to defend the primary profit-generating instruments of the industry leaders. (Goldman, JPM, etc) That means that Bernanke and Geithner will go to the mat to oppose any additional regulation on derivatives, securitization and off-balance sheet operations, the same lethal devices that triggered the financial crisis.

So, there was no conspiracy to blow up the financial system, but there is an implicit understanding that the Fed will serve the interests of Wall Street by facilitating asset bubbles through “accommodative” monetary policy and by opposing regulation. It’s just “business as usual”, but it’s far more damaging than any conspiracy, because it ensures that the economy will continue to stagnate, that inequality will continue to grow, and that the gigantic upward transfer of wealth will continue without pause.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached atfergiewhitney@msn.com

U.S. Accuses Goldman Sachs of Fraud: THE NEW YORK TIMES

U.S. Accuses Goldman Sachs of Fraud

Brendan McDermid/Reuters The new Goldman Sachs global headquarters in Manhattan.
By LOUISE STORY and GRETCHEN MORGENSON “GOTTA LOVE THESE TWO FOR THEIR EXCELLENT WORK”
Published: April 16, 2010

Goldman Sachs, which emerged relatively unscathed from the financial crisis, was accused of securities fraud in a civil suit filed Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which claims the bank created and sold a mortgage investment that was secretly devised to fail.

The move marks the first time that regulators have taken action against a Wall Street deal that helped investors capitalize on the collapse of the housing market. Goldman itself profited by betting against the very mortgage investments that it sold to its customers.

The suit also named Fabrice Tourre, a vice president at Goldman who helped create and sell the investment.

The instrument in the S.E.C. case, called Abacus 2007-AC1, was one of 25 deals that Goldman created so the bank and select clients could bet against the housing market. Those deals, which were the subject of an article in The New York Times in December, initially protected Goldman from losses when the mortgage market disintegrated and later yielded profits for the bank.

As the Abacus deals plunged in value, Goldman and certain hedge funds made money on their negative bets, while the Goldman clients who bought the $10.9 billion in investments lost billions of dollars.

According to the complaint, Goldman created Abacus 2007-AC1 in February 2007, at the request of John A. Paulson, a prominent hedge fund manager who earned an estimated $3.7 billion in 2007 by correctly wagering that the housing bubble would burst.

Goldman let Mr. Paulson select mortgage bonds that he wanted to bet against — the ones he believed were most likely to lose value — and packaged those bonds into Abacus 2007-AC1, according to the S.E.C. complaint. Goldman then sold the Abacus deal to investors like foreign banks, pension funds, insurance companies and other hedge funds.

But the deck was stacked against the Abacus investors, the complaint contends, because the investment was filled with bonds chosen by Mr. Paulson as likely to default. Goldman told investors in Abacus marketing materials reviewed by The Times that the bonds would be chosen by an independent manager.

“The product was new and complex, but the deception and conflicts are old and simple,” Robert Khuzami, the director of the S.E.C.’s division of enforcement, said in a statement. “Goldman wrongly permitted a client that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio, while telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective third party.”

Mr. Paulson is not being named in the lawsuit. In the half-hour after the suit was announced, Goldman Sachs’s stock fell by more than 10 percent.

In recent months, Goldman has repeatedly defended its actions in the mortgage market, including its own bets against it. In a letter published last week in Goldman’s annual report, the bank rebutted criticism that it had created, and sold to its clients, mortgage-linked securities that it had little confidence in.

“We certainly did not know the future of the residential housing market in the first half of 2007 anymore than we can predict the future of markets today,” Goldman wrote. “We also did not know whether the value of the instruments we sold would increase or decrease.”

The letter continued: “Although Goldman Sachs held various positions in residential mortgage-related products in 2007, our short positions were not a ‘bet against our clients.’ ” Instead, the trades were used to hedge other trading positions, the bank said.

In a statement provided in December to The Times as it prepared the article on the Abacus deals, Goldman said that it had sold the instruments to sophisticated investors and that these securities “were popular with many investors prior to the financial crisis because they gave investors the ability to work with banks to design tailored securities which met their particular criteria, whether it be ratings, leverage or other aspects of the transaction.”

Goldman was one of many Wall Street firms that created complex mortgage securities — known as synthetic collateralized debt obligations — as the housing wave was cresting. At the time, traders like Mr. Paulson, as well as those within Goldman, were looking for ways to short the overheated market.

Such investments consisted of insurance-like policies written on mortgage bonds. If the mortgage market held up and those bonds did well, investors who bought Abacus notes would have made money from the insurance premiums paid by investors like Mr. Paulson, who were negative on housing and had bought insurance on mortgage bonds. Instead, defaults spread and the bonds plunged, generating billion of dollars in losses for Abacus investors and billions in profits for Mr. Paulson.

For months, S.E.C. officials have been examining mortgage bundles like Abacus that were created across Wall Street. The commission has been interviewing people who structured Goldman mortgage deals about Abacus and other, similar instruments. The S.E.C. advised Goldman that it was likely to face a civil suit in the matter, sending the bank what is known as a Wells notice.

Mr. Tourre was one of Goldman’s top workers running the Abacus deal, peddling the investment to investors across Europe. Raised in France, Mr. Tourre moved to the United States in 2000 to earn his master’s in operations at Stanford. The next year, he began working at Goldman, according to his profile in LinkedIn.

He rose to prominence working on the Abacus deals under a trader named Jonathan M. Egol. Now a managing director at Goldman, Mr. Egol is not being named in the S.E.C. suit.

Goldman structured the Abacus deals with a sharp eye on the credit ratings assigned to the mortgage bonds associated with the instrument, the S.E.C. said. In the Abacus deal in the S.E.C. complaint, Mr. Paulson pinpointed those mortgage bonds that he believed carried higher ratings than the underlying loans deserved. Goldman placed insurance on those bonds — called credit-default swaps — inside Abacus, allowing Mr. Paulson to short them while clients on the other side of the trade wagered that they would not fail.

But when Goldman sold shares in Abacus to investors, the bank and Mr. Tourre only disclosed the ratings of those bonds and did not disclose that Mr. Paulson was on other side, betting those ratings were wrong.

Mr. Tourre at one point complained to an investor who was buying shares in Abacus that he was having trouble persuading Moody’s to give the deal the rating he desired, according to the investor’s notes, which were provided to The Times by a colleague who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to release them.

In seven of Goldman’s Abacus deals, the bank went to the American International Group for insurance on the bonds. Those deals have led to billions of dollars in losses at A.I.G., which was the subject of an $180 billion taxpayer rescue. The Abacus deal in the S.E.C. complaint was not one of them.

That deal was managed by ACA Management, a part of ACA Capital Holdings, which changed its name in 2008 to Manifold Capital Holdings.

Goldman at first intended for the deal to contain $2 billion of mortgage exposure, according to the deal’s marketing documents, which were given to The Times by an Abacus investor.

On the cover of that flip-book, it says that the mortgage bond portfolio would be “selected by ACA Management.”

In that flip-book, it says that Goldman may have long or short positions in the bonds. It does not mention Mr. Paulson or say that Goldman was in fact short.

The Abacus deals deteriorated rapidly when the housing market hit trouble. For instance, in the Abacus deal in the S.E.C. complaint, 84 percent of the mortgage bonds underlying it were downgraded by rating agencies just five months later, according to a UBS report.

It takes time for such mortgage investments to pay out for investors who short them, like Mr. Paulson. Each deal is structured differently, but generally, the bonds underlying the investment must deteriorate to a certain point before short-sellers get paid. By the end of 2007, Mr. Paulson’s credit hedge fund was up 590 percent.

Mr. Paulson’s firm, Paulson & Company, is paid a management fee and 20 percent of the annual profits that its funds generate, according to a Paulson investor document from late 2008 titled “Navigating Through the Crisis.”

GATH’ AROUND…Stocks Fall, Treasurys, Dollar Rise, On SEC Goldman Charges

Lets not act surprised…GS is going to turn into Butta’ all the wealth created is/was all an illusion…I bet “oil” is next…watch!

This might be the key that opens up Pandora’s Little Big Box! “John Paulson”

APRIL 16, 2010, 11:26 A.M. ET

Stocks Fall, Treasurys, Dollar Rise, On SEC Goldman Charges

By Michael J. Casey Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)–Stocks fell and Treasurys rose as news of Securities and Exchange Commission charges against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) sparked a flight out of risky assets.

The SEC said Goldman Sachs failed to disclose to investors vital information about a synthetic collateralized debt obligation, or CDO, based on subprime mortgage-backed securities–in particular the role played by a major hedge fund that had bet against the CDO. Subprime CDOs were at the heart of the recent financial crisis.

In response, investors moved into safe haven assets and out of riskier securities, buying Treasurys and the dollar, while selling stocks and commodities.

“The revival of risk aversion has benefited traditional safe-haven assets, like the dollar and the Japanese yen,” said Omer Esiner, senior market analyst at Travelex Global Business Payments in Washington.

Noting that the complaint is focused on a specific incident, he said the broad flight out of risk appeared to be a “knee-jerk reaction.”

Golmdan stock was down 12.45% to $161.33 on the news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 86 points at 11057, while the 10-year Treasury note was up 17/32 to yield 3.778%. Gold futures, which have tended to rise with commodities and other risk assets over the past year, were down 1.4%, according the most active June contract.

The euro plummeted to $1.3486 from $1.3577 late Thursday, according to EBS via CQG, while the dollar fell to Y92.11 from Y93.04.

“That word ‘fraud’ is the key. When you throw that word fraud in there, all bets are off then,” said Jay Suskind, senior vice president of Duncan-Williams.

-By Michael Casey; Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2209; michael.j.casey@dowjones.com

 (Bradley Davis and Kristina Peterson contributed to this report.)

Fed Audit Bitterly Opposed By Treasury

Huffingtonpost.com 3/9/2010

The Treasury Department is vigorously opposed to a House-passed measure that would open the Federal Reserve to an audit by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a senior Treasury official said Monday. Instead, the official said, the Treasury prefers a substitute offered by Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), and would like to see it enacted as part of the Senate bill.Fed Audit Treasury

The Watt measure, however, while claiming to increase transparency, actually puts new restrictions on the GAO’s ability to perform an audit.

Secretary Tim Geithner, Assistant Treasury Secretary Alan Krueger and Gene Sperling, a counselor to the secretary, held a briefing Monday with new media reporters and financial bloggers during which they discussed the Fed audit and other topics. Under the briefing’s ground rules, the officials could be paraphrased but not quoted, and the paraphrase could not be connected to a specific official.

HuffPost reporter Sam Stein lodged what he called a “formal complaint” against the ground rules. The complaint was noted and the briefing began.

Asked whether he supports the House-passed measure to open the Fed to an audit, which was cosponsored by Reps. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), a senior Treasury official said he is intensely opposed to it.

The official said the measure would undermine the independence of monetary policy and could restrict the ability of the Fed to act in times of crisis. He said that the GAO already has audit authority and that the chairman routinely testifies before Congress.

He said he supports full disclosure when it comes to the scale of Fed lending and wouldn’t draw a bright line around auditing certain activities, but wants to make sure it maintained its independence.

The Watt measure, however, while claiming to increase transparency, actually puts new restrictions on the GAO’s ability to perform an audit.

Secretary Tim Geithner, Assistant Treasury Secretary Alan Krueger and Gene Sperling, a counselor to the secretary, held a briefing Monday with new media reporters and financial bloggers during which they discussed the Fed audit and other topics. Under the briefing’s ground rules, the officials could be paraphrased but not quoted, and the paraphrase could not be connected to a specific official.

HuffPost reporter Sam Stein lodged what he called a “formal complaint” against the ground rules. The complaint was noted and the briefing began.

Asked whether he supports the House-passed measure to open the Fed to an audit, which was cosponsored by Reps. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), a senior Treasury official said he is intensely opposed to it.

The official said the measure would undermine the independence of monetary policy and could restrict the ability of the Fed to act in times of crisis. He said that the GAO already has audit authority and that the chairman routinely testifies before Congress.

He said he supports full disclosure when it comes to the scale of Fed lending and wouldn’t draw a bright line around auditing certain activities, but wants to make sure it maintained its independence.

A lack of independence, he said, could lead to inflation and otherwise undermine progressive priorities.

He said, however, that he would be supportive of efforts that would help the Fed earn back some of the credibility it has lost over the past few years.

HuffPost asked if central bank liquidity swaps — foreign currency trades worth hundreds of billions of dollars — should be subject to an audit. The official said that the identity of the countries that received dollars was made public as was the amount each got. It worked well and was good policy, he said, and opening it to audit could undermine its future effectiveness.

The purpose of the swaps, he said, was to make sure that foreign central banks had enough dollars to meet their obligations. The effort kept interest rates low, he said.

A member of Congress, told of the unnamed Treasury official’s comment, asked not to be named and said that Geithner, a former Fed president, should recuse himself from Fed audit legislation discussions, given that the audit would cover his own actions during the crisis.

And Rep. Grayson said he finds Treasury’s opposition to the audit troubling. “There is a growing feeling on the part of real Democrats that the president is getting bad advice from people who have sold out to Wall Street,” said Grayson. “And opposing a measure that passed overwhelmingly in the House with bipartisan support at the [Financial Services] Committee level, based up on legislation that now has 317 cosponsors in the House, shows that the president may be getting bad advice.”

The idea that the Fed’s mission would be undermined by an audit, said Grayson, “is a scarecrow erected by people who want to cover up the actions of the Fed for their own purposes, including those who actually have worked at part of the Fed, to prevent accountability at any cost.”

Geithner served as president of the New York Fed during the financial crisis.

“It’s interesting that the Fed regards the simple fact that people find out what it does as somehow being unduly restrictive. We are a government of laws, not of men,” said Grayson.

“It’s certainly no surprise that banking insiders at Treasury don’t want transparency at the Fed,” said Jesse Benton, a spokesman for Rep. Paul. “They are wrapped up in the central bank shenanagins too, and do not want their wheelings and dealings out in the open any more than Alan Greenspan or Ben Bernanke,”

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