Yes, it is that time of the year again. And once more, I get to play Santa and match the right gifts for those naughty and nice characters the impacted the mortgage and housing world. So, let’s see who will be received special gifts this season:
For Richard Cordray: A hearing exam. It would appear that the CFPB chief’s hearing is in terrible condition. After all, how else can one explain his chronic inability to listen to the growing chorus complaints from elected officials, the private sector, the media and even the CFPB Inspector General regarding the heavy-handed, sloppy and arrogant manner in which his agency is being run? Cordray, however, doesn’t need an eye exam – he had no trouble seeing American Banker’s harsh critique of the CFPB’s rickety consumer complaint database, to which he offered a very rare defense of his agency’s ineptitude.
For Julian Castro: An executive position in the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign. The HUD honcho happily jumped into partisan politics when he endorsed Hillary’s presidential bid at a televised rally design to attract Hispanic voters. Never mind that there is no precedent for an incumbent cabinet secretary rejecting Executive Branch neutrality in order to play favorites in the race for a party’s presidential nomination – and it is no secret that Castro has been biding his time at HUD before getting himself into national politics. Many pundits have already tapped him as Hillary’s running mate, playing up his youth and ethnic heritage while ignoring his accomplishment-free career. If Castro wants another Clinton in the White House, he should leave HUD full-time to work for it – and not just skip away from his office whenever the Clinton campaign beckons.
For Gretchen Morgenson: A scholarship for journalism school. The New York Times writer churned out an egregious December 7 article that relied on insinuation and sketchy commentators to smear MBA President and CEO David H. Stevens for allegedly working to destroy Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Morgenson’s work was astonishing for her utter ignorance on how federal housing policy is created – she repeatedly confused FHA and FHFA – and she seemed totally unaware that the big banks that supposedly use Stevens as their hatchet man in Washington have been moving away from the residential mortgage market due to Dodd-Frank regulatory burdens. With reporters like Morgenson, it is no wonder that people stopped reading and respecting the Times.
Rep. Ed Royce: A Congressional Gold Medal. The California Republican achieved the impossible by creating a bipartisan effort to approve legislation that capped the compensation for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac chief executives. In that achievement, Royce hit the ultimate double-play: he got both sides of Congress to work together and he created GSE-related legislation that made it to the president’s desk.
President Obama: Nothing. Rather than hail Rep. Royce’s legislation as evidence of bipartisan cooperation and government finally doing something right, the president abruptly signed Royce’s bill without any fanfare or special announcement. Indeed, the White House buried the news of the presidential approval in a single sentence within a press release that was quietly released by the administration right before Washington departed for the Thanksgiving recess. For that sour action, the president doesn’t deserve a toy in his stocking.
Trey Garrison: A lucky horseshoe. One of the best business journalists has left the building – although he is now in another building. Garrison left the staff of HousingWire last month to start his own consulting business. I hope this lucky horseshoe bring him a surplus positive karma in 2016.
To the Progress in Lending readers: My deepest thanks. Yes, we made it through another year, and I am glad that you were here with me for the ride. Here’s wishing you the best for the holidays, and for a 2016 full of happiness and profits!
About The Author
Phil Hall has been (among other things) a United Nations-based radio journalist, the president of a public relations and marketing agency, a financial magazine editor, the author of six books and a horror movie actor. Also, as you will discover, he is not shy about stating his views.