Senate Banking Committee Democrats are prodding the Federal Reserve Board and the other banking regulators to issue subprime guidance on adjustable-rate 2/28 and 3/27 mortgages as quickly as possible.In a May 17 letter, Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., and four other senators urge the regulators to put aside their concerns that tighter underwriting standards will make it difficult for trapped subprime borrowers to refinance. "Frankly, we find this objection as an admission that the original subprime ARM was inappropriate," the letter says. "It stretches credulity to argue that the path out of a poorly underwritten loan is another unaffordable loan underwritten on the same faulty basis." The proposed guidance requires lenders to underwrite subprime ARMs at the fully indexed and fully amortizing rate. The senators note that the Mortgage Bankers Association, along with major lenders and servicers, has adopted principles to pursue loan modifications if borrowers cannot afford their payment after the ARM resets. "These kinds of modifications offer a real alternative to foreclosure for borrowers, and we urge you to encourage servicers to pursue this course of action," the senators say.

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