Street Journal is reporting that the Obama Administration is planning to
name a permanent Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, perhaps as
soon as the beginning of next year. Nick Timiraos reports that, while the White
House has declined comment, sources familiar with the Administration say officials
are gathering names of potential nominees but have not yet whittled it down to
a short list or interviewed anyone for the post.
Edward J. DeMarco has been Acting
Director of FHFA since August 25, 2009, replacing James B. Lockhart, III who
had overseen the transition of the former Office of Federal Housing Enterprise
Oversight into FHFA. President Obama had
nominated Joseph Smith Jr. to be director but the Senate made it clear that no
nominee the President put forward would be confirmed.
FHFA is conservator of Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac (the GSEs) and DeMarco has earned both praise and vilification for
the job he has done there. There have
been calls from some liberal organizations for the President to fire him for
FHFA's performance during the housing and subsequent foreclosure crisis and
these calls grew as DeMarco stood firm in his decision to forbid the GSEs to
include principal reduction as a method of loan modification.
On the other hand, The Journal points to a warm reaction received by DeMarco last week
at a SIFMA conference and to the praise he has received from "mortgage traders, congressional Republicans, and some
industry executives (who) have lauded Mr. DeMarco as a principled adherent to
the law and steward of taxpayer dollars.'
the problems the President had appointing an FHFA Director and in getting other
sub-cabinet level positions confirmed, the Journal
says a recess appointment is unlikely because it would risk angering Senate
Republicans during Fiscal Cliff negotiations and poisoning the well ahead of a
number confirmations of higher ranking officials going into the President's
Timiraos lists several names of possible
replacements for DeMarco including:
Wachter, professor of real-estate finance at the University of Pennsylvania's
Stegman, an advisor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on housing finance;
Fiechter, deputy director for monetary and capital markets at the International
The Journal says,
"Replacing Mr. DeMarco could give the administration greater latitude to expand
initiatives to refinance underwater borrowers or to embark on a tailored
principal forgiveness program. Any replacement would also play an important
role guiding any process of overhauling Fannie and Freddie as the
administration prepares to unveil more details about its preferred course."
becoming Acting Director DeMarco had served as FHFA's Chief Operating Officer and
Senior Deputy Director for Housing Mission and Goals since FHFA's inception in
2008 and in the same positions at FHFA's predecessor agency from 2006. He served earlier in the Social Security
Administration and the U.S. Treasury.