January 18, 2018

Treasury's Phillips calls for strong regs, capital in housing finance

Treasury Counselor Craig Phillips said yesterday that the Treasury Department is committed to housing finance reform and that government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be taken out of conservatorship.

Phillips was speaking at a luncheon hosted by Women in Housing & Finance. NAFCU Regulatory Affairs Counsel Ann Kossachev was in attendance.

Within a reformed housing finance system, Phillips called for a rigorous capital requirement and strong regulation. Although the GSEs are often the focus of housing finance reform, Phillips said there are many programs across agencies that need to be reviewed, including at the Federal Housing Administration. He also said the affordability crisis affecting multi-family homes needs to be addressed, as well as regulations making it difficult to get a mortgage.

To reform the system, Phillips said a legislative fix is the best solution. He also stressed the importance of ensuring taxpayers are protected with a government guarantee.

On Wednesday, objectives from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to reform the housing finance system were made public. Included was a recommendation for a single government-guaranteed mortgage-backed security, echoing a key part of NAFCU's core principles for housing finance reform. Phillips said Treasury agrees with many of the FHFA's objectives, including the single security.

Phillips also discussed broader financial concerns during the luncheon. He said financial regulations have gone too far and also called for better tailored regulations, something which NAFCU is supportive of, as well as more transparency and clarity.