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Letter from Washington

Political Insider

President Trump’s schedule (EDT):

11:45 AM:  Daily intelligence briefing;

  2:45 PM:  Meets with Secretary of State Pompeo;

  4:00 PM:  Departs the White House en route Joint Base Andrews;

5:55 PM:  Arrives at Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Grand Rapids, MI;

  7:00 PM:  Holds a “Make America Great Again” rally at the Van Andel Arena;

  8:30 PM:  Departs Michigan; and

11:30 PM:  Arrives at Mar-a-Lago in West Palm Beach, FL.

“HUD charges Facebook with housing discrimination over its targeted advertising platform.”  This morning’s Washington Post article leads with:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Thursday it is alleging that Facebook’s targeted advertising platform violates the Fair Housing Act by “encouraging, enabling, and causing” unlawful discrimination by restricting who can view housing ads.

“Trump orders Treasury, HUD to develop new plan for how home sales are financed.”  Last night’s Washington Post article led with:

President Trump ordered federal regulators on Wednesday to develop plans to change the way the country finances the majority of its home purchases.

The plan could upend decades of housing policy while finally reckoning with a major piece of unfinished business from the financial crisis — the fates of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the housing finance giants that back more than half the mortgages written in the United States.

The two companies, which buy mortgages from lenders, then package them into securities to sell to investors, have been under government conservatorship for 10 years after receiving billions in taxpayer bailouts. Lawmakers have been wary of tinkering with their structure, fearful a wrong move could disrupt the housing market and the availability of 30-year mortgages, the most popular way home purchases are financed in the United States.

Trump signed a presidential memorandum Wednesday directing the Treasury Department to develop a plan that would end Fannie’s and Freddie’s government conservatorships and improve oversight of the companies, which have trillions in assets. Trump also instructed the Department of Housing and Urban Development to submit a plan to change the operations of other parts of the housing system, including the Federal Housing Administration, which helps low-income and first-time buyers.

“The lack of comprehensive housing finance reform since the financial crisis of 2008 has left taxpayers potentially exposed to future bailouts,” the proclamation says. “The housing finance system of the United States is in urgent need of reform.”

Trump’s directive comes amid growing expectations within the housing industry that the Trump administration would unilaterally release the companies from government control if Congress doesn’t act. Treasury Department officials have been meeting with industry and consumer groups over the last few weeks to identify potential sticking points to any reform effort, according to several people familiar with the meetings.

Disrupting the housing market in time for the 2020 election is a very risky strategy for Republicans, even if they are correct that Fannie and Freddie helped cause the 2008 Great Recession.  They were bailed out, but have since more than repaid what they received from Treasury.  There’s little chance, in my opinion, of getting a GSE reform bill through Congress before 2021.

Syndicated Conservation Easements Under Investigation By The Senate Finance Committee.  Yesterday’s press release led with:

Political Insider

About Pete Davis

Pete Davis

Pete Davis advises Wall Street money managers on Washington, DC policy developments that affect the financial markets. Visit his website here daviscapitalinvestmentideas.yolasite.com.

Articles by Pete Davis

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