The Federal Reserve Board is concerned that problems in the subprime and jumbo mortgage markets could lead to further weakening in the housing sector and consumer spending."Obviously, if current conditions persist in mortgage markets, the demand for homes could weaken further, with possible implications for the broader economy," Fed chairman Ben Bernanke told an economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. "We are following these developments closely." The Fed chairman noted that mortgage-backed securities investors are demanding stronger protections and better incentives for originators to underwrite prudently. "In recent months we have seen a reassessment of the problems of maintaining adequate monitoring and incentives in the lending process, with investors insisting on tighter underwriting standards and some large lenders pulling back from the use of brokers and other agents," Mr. Bernanke said. The Fed can be found online at http://www.federalreserve.gov.

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