Any new laws from Congress are far from certain, however. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., says increased regulatory oversight and voluntary actions by lenders are preferable to a government bailout. Dodd announced this week that several major participants in the mortgage market, including Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and HSBC Holdings Corp., agreed to adopt a set of principles for dealing with homeowners who face possible foreclosure. Kurt Pfotenhauer, senior vice president for government affairs at the Mortgage Bankers Association, called Dodd’s approach “responsible, thoughtful and forceful.” A taxpayer-financed bailout plan doesn’t make sense, he said, because “the mortgage finance industry is already stepping up to help those borrowers.” Determining what Congress should do is complicated by a lack of consensus about how much impact the subprime market’s troubles may have on the economy. Steven Wieting, senior economist with Citigroup, said tighter lending standards should result in lower levels of home sales in the coming years. He does not believe the mortgage market’s troubles will hamper the economy in the short term. As defaults rise, credit agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have in recent weeks downgraded or placed under review bonds backed by risky mortgages, particularly second mortgages that borrowers have used to finance 100 percent of a home’s value. Moody’s predicted last week that investor losses on subprime mortgage bonds issued last year would likely be bigger than expected, as many borrowers will soon face higher – and unaffordable – rates at the end of their initial fixed-rate periods on adjustable-rate loans. Christopher Thornberg, principal with Beacon Economics in Los Angeles, said the credit-rating agencies should have been far more skeptical. “These things should have been rated as risky a long time ago,” he said. At the state level, lawmakers and government officials have been responding quickly to the mortgage market’s troubles.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – As state lawmakers rush to reform lending practices that have contributed to a recent surge of mortgage defaults and foreclosures, some consumer advocates say these efforts fall short of what is truly needed: a federal law protecting homebuyers. The number of foreclosures nationally jumped by 47 percent in March from a year ago, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a problem concentrated in the subprime lending market for borrowers with shaky credit who took higher-priced and adjustable-rate loans. Amid fears that distress in the subprime lending market could spill over into the broader economy, some members of Congress are demanding reforms. But industry officials counter that increased scrutiny from regulators and investors has already triggered self-corrective measures, such as demands for more income verification and larger down payments from buyers. On Thursday, Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bob Casey, D-Pa., introduced a bill to require tougher federal standards for mortgage lenders. They also proposed greater public and private financing of consumer-education programs aimed at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.
“There was no way I would commit before I visited,” Sanchez said. “We understood they would take one quarterback. I just didn’t expect them to take the first one or that it would happen so fast.” If Sanchez attended Nebraska, he probably would be a three-year starter and the Cornhuskers might not have taken Arizona State transfer Sam Keller, who will start against USC on Saturday. Cushing questionable Linebacker Brian Cushing (sprained ankle) will be a game-time decision after doing less in practice than expected Wednesday. “There’s a big difference in just walking and coming out here and running,” Cushing said. “I think it’s about 85 to 90 percent, so I have a chance to play. I’ll just try to keep working to where I can be 100 percent on Saturday.” If Cushing is unable to play, Clay Matthews will make his first career start. “Clay’s been around a long time, he had a terrific first game, he’s worked extremely hard and he’s really ready,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s primed for this. “This is what depth is all about. This is what we had hoped, to be able to jump up with a guy we trust and believe in, who has been there when you do have a guy who has to step aside.” McKnight ready Tailback Joe McKnight (sprained knee) said he feels 100 percent and will not wear a knee brace for the game. “It was frustrating with the brace on; it was hard to play the way I normally do,” McKnight said. Bring on the noise USC practiced with loudspeakers simulating crowd noise, and perhaps no one needed it more than true freshman center Kris O’Dowd, who makes his second career start against Nebraska. “Most definitely it’s going to be a foreign place,” O’Dowd said. “But I feel pretty comfortable because we had a bye week. We’ve practiced well with the speakers.” O’Dowd said he’s also gotten more comfortable communicating with guards Jeff Byers and Chilo Rachal. “When you have those two guys next to you, you can’t go wrong,” he said. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I was disappointed, but there was nothing I could do,” Sanchez said. “I was a little bummed.” Ironically, the quarterback who committed, Harrison Beck, left Nebraska and transferred to North Carolina State, where he threw five interceptions last weekend in his first start. Sanchez said he doubted Nebraska regretted taking Beck over him. “I don’t think they even care,” he said. “I don’t know (if they regret it). I’m happy where I am.” Nebraska told Sanchez it would take one quarterback, and Beck committed before Sanchez got a chance to visit the campus. By Scott Wolf STAFF WRITER USC quarterback Mark Sanchez finally makes the trip to Lincoln, Neb., this weekend that the Cornhuskers denied him as a high school recruit. Sanchez was extremely interested in Nebraska and planned a trip prior to his senior year at Mission Viejo High, but the Cornhuskers canceled the trip after getting a commitment from another quarterback.