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Who is even more powerful in housing than Obama?

There is one person more powerful than President Obama when it comes to housing, and that is FHFA Director, Edward DeMarco. Here’s why:

There is one person more powerful than President Obama when it comes to housing, and that is FHFA Director, Edward DeMarco. Here's why:

Can you say without Google who he is?

Do you know who Edward DeMarco is? Can you say without Googling it? You should know, he’s literally the most powerful man in housing, even above President Obama, according to the Washington Post.

DeMarco is the current Director of the FHFA which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (which together own or guarantee over half of all American mortgages) and has held leadership roles at the FHFA, Treasury and other government agencies for decades.

Nominating a replacement failed

The Obama Administration has attempted to replace DeMarco by nominating North Carolina Banking Commissioner, Joseph A. Smith, Jr. but during confirmation hearings, Smith’s position that he would not necessarily resist White House pressure to write down mortgages and the confirmation did not go through.

Tension between Obama and DeMarco

“At the heart of the tension between DeMarco and the Obama administration is a conflict tucked deep into DeMarco’s job description: The head of the FHFA is stuck between the narrow needs of Fannie and Freddie and the broader needs of the housing market,” Ezra Klein and Brad Plumer of the Post write.

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Although Smith’s confirmation for DeMarco’s job didn’t go through, DeMarco isn’t a puppet for the Republican party either, according to ultra liberal Barney Frank who said, “He has been equally resistant to Republicans who want restrictions on compensation or sell off the portfolio too quickly. He wants to maximize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s returns, and he’s been very consistent in resisting anything that will jeopardize that.”

Main goal: minimize loss

Over the last year, DeMarco has been pressured by the White House to involve Fannie and Freddie in a program that would allow banks to write down mortgages, but he has stood firmly against it, saying “It has been our conclusion that it is not loss minimizing for Fannie and Freddie.” For this same reason, administration programs designed to help distressed homeowners have been bucked consistently by DeMarco.

According to the Post, “a few months ago, Geithner began looking for ways to fire DeMarco. But the plan would have required moving a credible replacement into the FHFA for at least 90 days beforehand. Geithner gave up the effort after being rebuffed by multiple candidates.”

Because DeMarco remains an independent regulator and can only be fired if the White House finds cause, but political disagreement is not legal grounds to remove him which keeps him in the driver’s seat of housing, and you probably didn’t know his name without Googling it.

DeMarco’s bio courtesy of the FHFA:
On August 25, 2009 President Obama designated Edward J. DeMarco the Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the regulator of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks effective September 1, 2009. Mr. DeMarco was appointed Chief Operating Officer and Senior Deputy Director for Housing Mission and Goals for FHFA in 2008 after enactment of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the legislation that established FHFA. Mr. DeMarco joined the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), a predecessor agency to FHFA, in October 2006 as its Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Director. He came to OFHEO from the Social Security Administration (SSA) where, as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Policy, he led SSA’s policy, research, and statistics functions. Before joining SSA in 2003, Mr. DeMarco was Director of the Office of Financial Institutions Policy at the U.S. Department of the Treasury where he oversaw analyses of public policy issues involving government sponsored enterprises and other financial institutions. Prior to his ten-year tenure at the Treasury Department, he worked at the U.S. General Accounting Office for seven years. Mr. DeMarco received a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

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Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.



  1. jboy

    September 5, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Didn't know his name. I would like to see our government govern on the basis of viability instead of maximized profits. I understand that businesses must make money, and Fannie and Freddie both need to as well. But how about we place more importance on health of the market as opposed to gross overspending!?

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