Thursday, February 14, 2019

Yawn, yawn--I'm in!

Too many chefs spoil the (GSE) soup…
Please, move faster clock, move faster

Watching the Senate Banking Committee Mark Calabria nomination hearing this morning—and listening about the nominee being raised by a single Mom who couldn’t count on receiving her monthly support check from ex-hubby with its impact on paying the mortgage (or rent)—I know from experience (and prepping dozens of congressional witnesses) how quickly Calabria wanted all this shit to end.

His name had been bandied about for months as a possible successor to Mel Watt (what has happened with that suit against former Director Watt??), with the usual shots at Calabria by foes (generally those who wanted the job to go to someone else) and praise from his allies--which mandatory in the process.

The R’s still controlled the Senate and Calabria finally gets the nomination but the committee drags its feet on a hearing date. Curiously, the White House names Joseph Otting--who is the Comptroller of the Currency (overseer for all national banks), a good buddy and former colleague of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin--as “acting-FHFA Director” while Calabria waits.

Then Otting, either wittingly or unwittingly, tells his temporary FHFA charges—in a well-reported meeting—about the Admin’s plans to remove Fannie and Freddie from the 2008 “Conservatorship,” which made the GSEs wards of the government (FHFA but really Treasury) and turn them into their old selves, something less, something greater, or none of the above, since Otting provided no details, which is standard Admin operating procedure.
In the meantime, investors swoon, stock prices rise, and everybody waits for the now set, 2-14-Calabria hearing, in which Calabria wants nothing more than to be asked, “Who is your favorite professional baseball team?” and “Which fruit pie does your Mom make better than all of her other excellent baking??”

(Mark Calabria thinks: “Please Senators, just go easy and let me out of here, don’t you have a vote or somewhere else to be this morning?”)

He gets asked the obvious, bathed in skepticism question, “Given your past positions, why do would you want this job?” Left unsaid was the Senator’s real thought, i.e. “Why do you want this lousy low profile job?”

I’d ask Calabria the same, but I believe everyone should work somewhere.

Those Senators know, after all of the shopworn and hackneyed congressional obeisance Calabria paid to his family, his career history as an SBC employee, his name dropping of still present Senators in the chamber, his role in shaping (not as much as he claims) some of the agency he will command, etc. etc. “You don’t get to be Arch Bishop by running the FHFA!!”

It ain’t that important and Calabria’s desire to make the FHFA a “world class regulator” ain’t in the OMB’s cards, no matter how much MC bloviates about the importance of the 30-year fixed rate mortgage and the GSEs’ role in making that loan prevalent.
It’s clear, too, that many of the Senators still don’t understand what and how the GSEs do what they do, but they—and importantly—their staffs have heard all of the rumors about the White House’s desire—again, despite all the of contrary Admin rhetoric—to move expeditiously on something that has minimal congressional approval.
Worse, it’s clear that Mnuchin, his aide Craig Phillips, and likely Joe Otting have constructed a GSE executive/regulatory relief package, which might have Calabria’s name added to it, but which won’t have much of his DNA in it.

So why is he here?

(MC: Kill time, kill time, and don’t be topical, too dangerous.)

(MC: Maybe crack an insider joke? “Hey, Senator, did you hear about the mortgage banker passing the vacant lot and a Realtor/developer comes out of a trailer with a snake around his neck and asks….?”)

Mark Calabria looks at his notes as often as he can, reads from them, and sneaks a peek at his watch, mentally screaming,...and then, “Why yes Senator I commit to rural housing forever in whatever state you are from and for the rest of my natural born days."

(MC. Come on, you &amp,*%$#@^ clock!”)

Between (soft) grilling, MC ruminates to himself, (MC: “Why do I want this stinkin’ job. I don’t get no badges! Maybe if I stutter a little bit, I can stretch out my answers or recite facts about the Housing Act of 1964, let alone the 1992 legislation which first created the agency I am seeking to run about which none of these guys/women know anything?”)

11:53 AM, Chairman Crapo (R-Idaho) bangs the gavel, "Hearing concluded."

His prayers answered, Calabria gets his wish, breathes out “slam dunk,” shakes hands, kisses loved ones, and quickly enters men’s room to change underwear and pants!!

Good luck, Mark!

Maloni, 2-14-2019