Wall Street Journal - Developments February 7, 2013By Alan Zibel
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) is among lawmakers calling on
President Obama to nominate a permanent director for the FHFA.
When will the White House finally have something to say about President Barack Obama’s pick to run the FHFA?
That question is on the mind of 45 House Democrats. The lawmakers, led by Reps. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) and John Tierney (D., Mass.), sent a letter on Thursday to President Barack Obama urging him to nominate a director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency–-the federal regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“We believe your re-election is a prime opportunity to put forth a new candidate who is ready and willing to implement all of Congress’ directives to meet the critical challenges still facing our nation’s housing-finance markets,” the lawmakers wrote.
The agency’s acting director, Edward DeMarco, has been criticized by Democrats on Capitol Hill, administration officials and liberal groups, all of whom have been calling on Mr. Obama to replace Mr. DeMarco.
Representatives for the White House and Mr. DeMarco were not immediately available for comment.
Why all the fuss about a seemingly obscure regulator? The most prominent area of conflict has been the FHFA’s refusal to accept the Obama administration’s offer to subsidize the cost of debt forgiveness for troubled homeowners.
Obama administration officials argued that Fannie and Freddie could actually save money by doing so but Mr. DeMarco said no, arguing that any potential savings would not be large enough to overcome other costs.
As Developments reported in December, the White House has been exploring potential leaders for the agency.
But the matter does not appear to be especially urgent for the administration as it focuses on confirming leaders for cabinet-level agencies such as the Treasury Department.
Another issue is that it may be difficult to find a FHFA nominee who could clear the Senate, where Republicans are likely to be skeptical of any choice: The administration’s first choice to run the FHFA, former North Carolina banking regulator Joseph Smith, withdrew his name more than two years ago in the face of intense Republican opposition.
Many on the left would like Mr. Obama to use a recess appointment to install Mr. DeMarco’s replacement. But that outcome is now highly unlikely, now after a federal court ruled that Mr. Obama’s use of that method to install three members of a federal labor panel was unconstitutional.
An historical observation relating to this pressure from the left on federal housing policy:
On Thursday (1/17/2013) The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank released the transcripts of its 2007 meetings. [Late 2007 was when the the great housing and mortgage bubble began to suddenly deflate.]If you depend upon the most knowledgeable economic and financial experts to anticipate the economy’s behavior, and / or to give you advice on how you should behave, so as to grow and protect your assets, the two articles below may cause you to doubt the ability of such experts, and to confirm the existence of Black Swans.(1)
Timothy Geithner's flat-footed reaction is even more amazing when you realize that Geithner worked in the Japanese Embassy, as a Treasury Department attaché, at the beginning of Japan's "Lost Decade".Japan's "Lost Decade' was a financial crisis which began with the collapse of the Japanese commercial real estate bubble. The collapse of the Japanese commercial real estate bubble created problems for the Japanese economy which are very similar to the problems U.S. and global economies have been experiencing since 2008.(2)From a January 18, 2013 New York Times article, "Days Before The Bust, Fed Doubted Need to Act" By Benyamin Applebaum (at the time of the Federal Reserve's transcript's creation William Poole, was the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis).“The outcome would have been different only if the Fed and others had reacted back in 2004, 2005, 2006” to curtail subprime mortgage lending, Mr. Poole, now a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, said on Friday in an interview on CNBC.(3)Footnotes:(1) For more on Black Swans see Wikipedia entry, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory(2) For more on Japan’s Lost Decade see Wikipedia entry, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_Decade_(Japan)(3) For the full CNBC interview with Mr. Poole go to YouTube and watch, An Interview with former President of the St. Lewis Federal Reserve, William Poole:More:"The Role of the Government Sponsored Enterprises and Federal Housing Policy in the Financial Crisis”, at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/106248756/The-Role-of-the-Government-Sponsored-Enterprises-and-Federal-Housing-Policy-in-the-Financial-CrisisOn YouTube key-words-search, and watch, a January 1998 PBS NewsHour interview with then President Bill Clinton, titled "Bill Clinton: Laying the Foundation for The House of Cards"
November 1, 2011 Michael Bloomberg - The Good Democrat
Speaking at a business breakfast in midtown featuring Bloomberg and two former New York City mayors, Bloomberg was asked what he thought of the Occupy Wall Street protesters."I hear your complaints," Bloomberg said. "Some of them are totally unfounded. It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp. Now, I'm not saying I'm sure that was terrible policy, because a lot of those people who got homes still have them and they wouldn't have gotten them without that."But they were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will. They were the ones that pushed the banks to loan to everybody. And now we want to go vilify the banks because it's one target, it's easy to blame them and congress certainly isn't going to blame themselves. At the same time, Congress is trying to pressure banks to loosen their lending standards to make more loans. This is exactly the same speech they criticized them for."Bloomberg went on to say it's "cathartic" and "entertaining" to blame people, but the important thing now is to fix the problem.--------------------------------------------------A Few Questions: Was it only 'Congress' that created and allowed pressures motivating banks to abandon due diligence banking? Or, did pressure from, and policies supported by, the executive branch play an even greater role, than Congress’s role, in the creation of the housing and mortgage bubble - which led to the financial crisis? Who in Congress supported the policies that created the problem? Which players in the executive branch and its bureaucracy enforced and expanded the Community Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Housing Act?