Next week a House Financial Services subcommittee will hold its first hearing on the future of the GSEs by looking at what immediate steps can be taken to stem the losses at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., will chair the Feb. 9 hearing held by the subcommittee on capital markets and government sponsored enterprises. "This hearing will be the first in a series of hearings to examine the steps Congress can take right now to protect taxpayers from the ongoing bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," the subcommittee chairman said.
"With a price tag of $150 billion and counting, Congress must take immediate measures to minimize this cost and ensure taxpayers are never put in this situation again," Rep. Garrett said.
The two — which purchase roughly 70% of all new mortgages being funded today — release their 4Q10 earnings at the end of February.
They were taken over by the government in Sept. 2008. Both have been feasting on refinancings the past year, leaving much of the "purchase money" business to the Federal Housing Administration.
In other GSE news, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is creating specialized risk teams to participate in the examinations of Fannie Freddie and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLB) as part of a major overhaul of the entire agency.
The GSE regulator also is hiring experienced examiners as well as policy analysts, financial analysts, accountants and economists as part of the restructuring plan.
"Changes in the supervision program structure will promote greater uniformity and consistency in examinations" of the government sponsored enterprises, the agency said in a statement.
FHFA acting director Edward DeMarco is restructuring the Division of Housing Mission and Goals (DHMG), a unit he oversaw before his appointment by President Obama to be the acting director of the agency.
DHMG will be divided into four offices: Housing and Regulatory Policy, Financial Analysis and Modeling, Systemic Risk and Market Surveillance, and Policy Analysis and Research.
As the acting director, DeMarco remains the deputy director of DHMG. However, FHFA is hiring an assistant deputy director to manage the Division of Housing Mission and Goals on a daily basis.
Meg Burns will head the Office of Regulatory and Research, which will be responsible for policy and regulatory initiatives involving single-family and multifamily finance. She previously served at the FHA and currently is a senior official in FHFA's congressional affairs and communications office.
Stephen Cross will continue to serve as acting chief operating officer and deputy director for the Division of FHLB Regulation.
Recruitment is under way for a new deputy director for Enterprise Regulation, which is responsible for the examinations of Fannie and Freddie. This division is hiring what FHFA calls "examiners-in-charge."
DeMarco has appointed Mike Powers, a veteran regulator and banker, to be FHFA's first ombudsman. He will address complaints regarding the agency actions and decisions. "FHFA plans to have the new structure in place by the end of the first quarter," the agency said.