Trump calls Fannie, Freddie a ‘pretty urgent problem’, Calabria argues FHFA has authority to act without Congress

This American Banker article explores the remarks from President Trump at the recent National Association of Realtors event. From the White House transcript:

“My administration is also committed to reforming our housing finance system.  So important.  More than a decade after the financial crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still in conservatorship.  Fannie and Freddie still dominate the market with no real competition from the private sector.  And taxpayers are still on the hook if another crisis should happen.

And this is a pretty urgent problem.  We’re doing well with it now.  It’s well managed now.  We have great people, but it’s a pretty big problem.  And it’s really a problem that other than government should be doing, so we’re looking at different alternatives.  We have many geniuses looking at it and we’ll figure something out.  But Fannie and Freddie can do a lot better than they’re doing, although now they have some very good people running it.

And that’s why I recently directed the Department of Treasury and HUD — Ben — to develop a framework for a modern housing finance system.  And you’re working on that, Ben.  I know you have some incredible talent from Wall Street coming in.”

“So we will be working closely with Congress to pass these critical reforms, and we will consider taking other administrative actions to modernize our housing programs and to ensure more affordable housing to get rid of ridiculous regulations so you can build and build quickly and build beautifully.  Actually, you’ll put more money into the house, because instead of spending on a ridiculous paperwork, you’ll be able to buy better lumber and better flooring and better windows.”

At the Mortgage Bankers Association conference, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Director Dr. Mark Calabria said “ while I’m committed to working with Congress, I’m not going to wait on Congress. In fact, if you look at the statute, it contemplates an end to the conservatorships. The model is very similar model to how the FDIC operates. The law requires me to do what I can within my powers to fix the GSEs and then release them from conservatorship – and that’s exactly what I intend to do.” Dr. Calabria also made several remarks on his vision for GSE reform in this this Politico interview.