Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Midweek Musings

Nancy Pelosi

I doubt if many voters in Pennsylvania and Ohio—plus other states where the D’s lost big—had Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) on their minds when they went into the voting booths and supported more Republicans than Democrats, at all levels of government.

It just doesn’t work that way.

The GOP and its conservative allies tried to make her an “issue.” I don’t think they succeeded but she did become one of many Democrats and D policy positions, which the GOP demonized successfully and which carried their party onto numerous victories last Tuesday.

Many people who know the former Speaker much better than I talk about her selflessness and dedication to Democratic Party ideals, traditions, and platform.

Even with that as a given, I don’t think Rep, Pelosi should run for the leadership of her House party.

She obviously has chosen otherwise. I think she is making the wrong decision.

Fair or not, she has become too much of a lightning rod for those who dislike the party and its platform. ‘San Francisco liberal,” was one of the mildest epithets they threw at her, but in some congressional districts in this election it had the sting of a scorpion.

Congresswoman Pelosi should not seek the Minority Leader’s job,
because she just is asking for more of the same personal and institutional political abuse.

I have no doubt about Ms. Pelosi’s capacity, instead as one who has spent years trying to undo myths and untruths about the GSEs, I don’t believe that Pelosi ever will have enough time or facts—nor an objective audience—to correct the opposition and undo the damage they caused.

People steeped in sports culture like to point out, “There is no ‘I’ in team.”

But, if you scramble the letters in the word, there is a “me” and I think Ms. Pelosi’s understandable decision is more about her concerns for her legacy than what is best for the House Democrats at this juncture with the 2012 elections less than two years away.

I hope Nancy Pelosi reconsiders her decision and then defers to one of her capable House colleagues.

The Pauls, Pere et Fils (father and son for those of you who don’t speak Spanish!)

I think the odds are pretty good that we will see new Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) serving on the Senate Banking Committee, just as his father, Ron Paul (R-Tex) serves on its House counterpart. I believe the “father son service at the same time” is without precedent, but I have a feeling that we will see a lot of “precedents,” when the House Republican majority takes over next January.

The poor Fed!

Kudos to Bachus, Don’t Waver Spence

Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) uttered a very truthful statement back home in Alabama this week. But he now seems to be backing way from his candor (and bravery!).

Bachus, who aspires to be the Republican Chairman to the House Financial Service Committee, told locals that he felt Sarah Palin cost the GOP control of the Senate by endorsing Tea Party/GOP primary candidates who couldn’t win the general election races and, indeed, did not.

The backsliding I think makes Bachus look less astute than he appeared when he made the original comments. But, other R’s share that perspective. Few of them have generated the attention that Bachus has. Yay Spencer!

Fannie and Freddie

During a conference call for financial analysts, I was asked if Fannie and Freddie could exist in their same “conservatorship” model two years from now, when the 2012 presidential and congressional elections occur.

The short answer is “yes,” but behind that suggests a failure of the Administration to put forward a thoughtful budget proposal—which it says is coming—one which can generate bi-partisan support.

The R’s and many D’s already want to do heinous things to the GSEs, so you would think that there might be an area of agreement here.

Except, the very conservative House might hold out for total decimation and I don’t think it has the political support for that. The “new Tea Party/GOP” House majority might and could pass a draconian bill that the Senate won’t support or the Admin would veto.

In the meantime, the “conserved” Fannie and Freddie would just chug along, financing 90+ percent of the conventional mortgage market, paying back the Treasury a usurious 10% rate on its borrowings (large banks only paid and pay 5%) and nothing dramatic happens in this stalemate.

At some point, between now and 2012, Fannie and Freddie might start making money
and opening the way for a thoughtful restructuring, ala the National Association of Realtors proposal or even Hank Paulson’s “regulated utility” idea.

If the above scenario evolves, the GSEs become a decision for the next President and Congress in 2013.

Maloni, 11-10-10


John said...

Bill--IF the 10% dividend is the only thing soon between the GSEs making money or not, you have to ask yourself...Obama is a Dem, right?...why the American Democratic party wants to bleed entities that send over half their product to low- and moderate-income families. What am I missing here?

Bill Maloni said...

Two answers.

Both companies still are generating red ink from their "old books of business" (meaning pre-2009), so the the dividend alone isn't keeping them in the red, but that soon could change as more recent business produce profts.

Until we see the Admin's Budget and its formal GSE proposal, the Obama Treasury won't take any steps to strengthen the companies or make their lot easier.

I agree with your sentiment and while nobody in the White House will admit it--and despite the job both companies are doing as the "only game in town" and funding @90% of the conventional mortgage market--I think the "10%" tariff issue is rooted in some sort of punitive disdain for Fannie and Freddie.

I don't think there is a "D Party" position on the GSEs, just lots of voices, which is why when the Administration finally unveils its position, everyone else will weigh in, including the GOP.

Anonymous said...


What is your gut telling you they do?

Do you think there is any value in the Preferreds?

I didn't understand the ruch to delist these entities but the thinking that they want these entities gone seems pretty supported.

But how do they get there and wipe out shareholders without going BK?


Bill Maloni said...

Before giving you my "gut," let me share a moment from a week ago, when I had a dinner meeting with an "investment club." Most of the dozen or so attendees--coincidentally--had worked for Fannie or Freddie or with the two companies.

When I asked the same question to smart people who lived this melodrama, I got about 13 different answers!!

The Obama Admin is on the hook for a new GSE proposal in its forthcoming budget. That will be the earliest we'll see something "substantive" for people to rally around or trash.

I used to preach to my lobbying team that, "You can't beat something with nothing."

That means even the GSE opponents will have to come up with a different/better plan than the Administration's,

But the reason--as I've written--why we may see this issue "opunted" to a future President and Congress in 2013, is missing answers to the "What do we do in the interim and how do we get from here (existing model) to there, the new mortgage finance system.

I believe that we will see and hear lots of noise and fireworks and very little progress from today's status quo.

With regard to shareholders rights, common or preferred, I see little if any concern about either, with a lawsuit necessary to get those matters addressed.