Magazine article American Banker

Philosopher at Freddie Mac Tackles Homes for the Poor

Magazine article American Banker

Philosopher at Freddie Mac Tackles Homes for the Poor

Article excerpt

John Gibbons, 42, is an assistant to Freddie Mac chairman Leland Brendsel and acting chief financial officer. Mr. Gibbons came to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. as vice president for financial research in 1991, after five years as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch & Co. in Los Angeles and New York.

He earned a doctorate in political philosophy from Harvard University in 1981. Mr. Gibbons spoke to American Banker recently about the challenge of increasing Freddie's affordable housing business.

Q.: How does a political philosopher make the leap to investment banker.

GIBBONS: It isn't a long path. I taught at the University of Chicago for a few years. I enjoyed it wonderfully but disliked poverty, and decided that I would return to teaching at some point, but I'd spend some time in business first. I got an MBA, spent a year at Standard & Poor's, then moved to Merrill Lynch.

Q.: What drew you to the mortgage business?

GIBBONS: This happened in 1984 when the mortgage business was clearly poised to be the growth business on Wall Street for the next few years.

Q.: Are the affordable housing regulations perceived to be in tension with Freddie's financial soundness or profitability?

GIBBONS: One of the virtues of the 1992 legislation was its explicit recognition that it's difficult to know how to assess the performance of a government-sponsored enterprise. So rather than just putting down goals for us, it characterized 1993 and 1994 as a transitional period. …

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