Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., has invited the chief executives of five major lending companies, including New Century Mortgage Co., to testify at a March 22 hearing on the causes of the "subprime crisis."The CEOs of HSBC Mortgage Corp. USA, Countrywide Home Loans, WMC Mortgage Corp., and First Franklin Mortgage are also invited to explain their subprime lending practices to the committee. Sen. Dodd blames predatory and irresponsible lending practices for rising defaults and foreclosures on subprime loans. "At the very least, homeowners facing foreclosure deserve to know what factors contributed to their dire straits, and what steps are needed to fix this pressing problem," Sen. Dodd said.

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