WASHINGTON — Richard Neiman, the superintendent of the New York State Banking Department, is expected today to call for more action to speed up loan modifications.
In the text of a speech he was to make this morning to the New York Bankers Association, Mr. Neiman cited a report from state regulators that showed the ratio of delinquent borrowers with no modification plan increased to eight out of 10 by the end of May.
Mr. Neiman said banks should begin attempting systematic loan modifications, something Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair has repeatedly called for.
"Systemic modifications are achievable," the speech said.
The Treasury Department, he said, should use its authority under the recently enacted rescue bill to "encourage more lenders and servicers to participate in the new Hope for Homeowners program through the Federal Housing Administration."
That program began operation on Oct. 1 and is designed to help borrowers whose homes are worth less than their mortgages.
Mr. Neiman also urged the Treasury to use new power to offer loan guarantees and credit enhancements to lenders that agree to loan modification programs.
The third report from the State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group, which is made up of state officials led by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, said that servicers "appear to have reached the 'low hanging fruit' of subprime loans facing interest rate resets, while not developing effective approaches to address the bulk of subprime loans which are in default before interest rate resets."
The report found that 40,000 fewer loans were in any kind of loss-mitigation proceedings in May than in January. A fifth of loans that had already been modified were delinquent again. "Significant numbers of modifications offered to homeowners have not been sustainable," the group said.
In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Neiman said regulators need to focus on foreclosure prevention because "it appears that voluntary efforts have been unsuccessful."
"The Treasury should continue to focus on the underlying issue that both created this crisis and is continuing to worsen it," he said.
Mr. Neiman's speech cited a Center for Responsible Lending estimate that foreclosures in New York will have drained $64 billion of equity from nearby property by the end of next year.
But he said that, in some ways, the crisis has helped smaller banks in his state. As national banks have merged, he noted, smaller regional and community banks have filled the holes they left. He said the state had granted licenses to two Chinese banks — "the first branches of banks from mainland China to open in the U.S. after a gap of seventeen years."
The Chinese banks' move and Goldman Sachs' decision to adopt a New York state charter when it converts itself to a bank holding company show that the Banking Department is "an effective bank regulator" and that "regulators like New York deserve a prominent place in the 21st-century regulatory framework," Mr. Neiman said.
He criticized the regulatory restructuring blueprint that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson released in March, which proposed eliminating state banking regulators.
"The dual banking system is alive and well and should certainly be part of any restructured regulatory regime," Mr. Neiman said.