IT'S MID-FEBRUARY AND WE ARE DROPPING BY Dave Stevens' desk to hear what's on his mind. As usual, we need to do a little probing--because you just never know. This guy's a thinker and he can be all over the place. [paragraph] So, what's top of mind for him today, as we sit here surrounded by melting snow in wintry D.C?
Could it be those wobbly new-home sales numbers and weak builder sentiment? Is that what the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA's) chief executive is focused on? Nope--that's important, but that's not it.
Is it the latest rules out of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)? Well, he's concerned--but that's not top of the list.
So what's really on his mind? Turns out it's Fannie and Freddie, and the critical need to redraw the secondary market map--and doing it sooner rather than later.
He says a new bipartisan Senate bill on the subject is due out any minute. It could even drop before this column sees the light of day. And all that has him thinking about the whole issue of housing finance reform, and how to get it accomplished.
And, let's just say, when he focuses on something--it's all in. He lets it rip with a brain dump that is so holistic, so comprehensively thought through, that he leaves you feeling like you just spent a graduate-level semester studying whatever it is he's talking about.
So prepare yourself. You are about to be schooled--Dave Stevens style--in the current politics and policy of government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform. Here goes. (Try to keep up.)
He says that with the introduction of the new bipartisan Senate legislation, the issue sits at a crossroads. He says depending on what the Congress does, we could either "see a pathway forward or an extended period of dysfunction and uncertainty."
Critical issues are at stake, he says. And the argument for progress in the current Congress (not the one coming after this year's elections) "is compelling,'' he adds.
But he knows--probably better than most--that even a compelling need for action doesn't necessarily translate into actual passage of anything in this Congress. With the House controlled by Republicans and the Senate by Democrats, the Congress is locked in gridlock on this GSE issue--and just about everything else. And it's not just the House and the Senate that are divided into vastly different positions on GSE reform.
He identifies the various camps with different views as: GSE shareholders; groups that support the status quo for the...