On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced the nomination of Dr. Mark Calabria, who is currently the Chief Economist to Vice President Mike Pence, to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency for five years after the term of the current FHFA Director, Mel Watt expires in January.
“The American $10 trillion mortgage market is the envy of the world, and to keep us on top we need an FHFA Director who is dedicated to capitalism and economic growth. Dr. Calabria is that man,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). “At a moment in time when the future of housing finance policy in our country will be permanently shaped by the next FHFA Director, I can think of no better or more responsible person for the role than Dr. Calabria and applaud President Trump for his outstanding pick.”
“I congratulate Mark Calabria on his nomination as director for the Federal Housing Finance Agency,” said Ed Delgado, President and CEO of The Five Star Institute. “Housing finance policy is approaching a critical juncture and we look forward to working with Dr. Calabria and the team at FHFA towards implementing regulations that preserve and protect homeownership.”
If confirmed, Calabria would have significant influence over the housing finance market at the FHFA. According to Bloomberg, Calabria had previously pushed for putting Fannie and Freddie into receivership. “Calabria, a former scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute, has also called for abolishing the mortgage-interest deduction, something millions of homeowners benefit from. In addition, he has supported getting rid of government subsidies for the 30-year fixed rate mortgage,” Bloomberg said.
In his commentary on the nomination, David Dworkin, President and CEO of the National Housing Conference wrote that having strong opinions in the private sector or in academia wasn’t the same as “having your hand on the throttle that controls one-sixth of the U.S. economy.”
“Driving up mortgage interest rates in advance of a highly probable 2020 recession makes a strong case against hiking up guarantee fees at Fannie and Freddie. Eliminating the 30-year fixed rate mortgage would also force consumers into adjustable rate mortgages during a period of inevitably rising rates, potentially causing another major foreclosure crisis. No one wants that on their watch,” Dworkin said. “One thing we do know for certain is that NHC and our members will work with whoever is confirmed to run FHFA, and we will continue to forcefully and respectfully advocate for the American Home, as we have done since 1931.”
Congratulating Calabria on his nomination, National Association of Home Builders’ Chairman, Randy Noel said that Calabria’s extensive experience with housing finance issues provided an outstanding background for this position. “We look forward to working with him to ensure the nation’s housing finance system retains the appropriate degree of federal support to provide consistent affordable mortgage credit for homebuyers and liquidity and stability for homeownership and rental housing,” Noel said.
Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) said that Calabria was a strong choice to lead the agency. “Throughout his career, Mark has been a thought leader in advancing free-market solutions to complex policy areas. I’m confident he will bring these same skills to FHFA and the American homeowner will benefit from Calabria’s service to our country,” he said.