Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Summer Reading

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Summer Reading

Article excerpt

So we go into the inner sanctum the day before the first day of summer. He's at his desk working away. And we wonder: Will Dave Stevens even have a summer this year? So we ask him. [paragraph] He laughs and says the "good news is there's this thing called a congressional recess." The Fourth of July was within reach on that afternoon in late June. And everyone knows it would be unpatriotic for a senator or congressman not to visit the home district and eat a corn dog over the holiday.

And so they all did.

Both the House and Senate were officially gone from July 1 through July 5.

But before they slipped out of D.C. to celebrate the nation's birthday, one big-deal piece of Senate business actually got done. It was the formal introduction of the much-talked-about Corker-Warner bill by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia).

The bipartisan bill would dismantle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and replace them with a big new piece of mortgage capital markets plumbing. It was the first credible piece of comprehensive legislation to tackle Fannie/Freddie reform to be introduced since the enterprises were taken into conservatorship--close to five years ago.

The bill has been percolating for months, garnering industry input and media buzz. That it was actually introduced marked a starting point in the next phase of the debate over Fannie and Freddie.

But wait, we are getting way ahead of ourselves. Let's rewind the tape a bit and go back to our short visit to the third-floor, high-ceilinged office of Dave Stevens on June 20--before the bill had officially seen the light of day.

The bill actually dropped five days after our visit with the super-wired CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

The timing was just right to provide him with a little extra light reading for his Fourth of July break. But we all know he probably had seen several drafts before it was officially released for public consumption (just a guess; I have no actual knowledge of this).

The Corker-Warner bill is officially called S. 1217--the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2013. (Amazon might not have it yet, but wait a bit and you might be able to pick it up cheap.)

So much for that recess he was looking forward to. He wasn't complaining, though. He might even like reading legislation, I haven't really asked. (I'm kind of afraid to.)

I actually did have the nerve to ask if he had picked up any escapist summer reading. This was before I knew that the 300-pound new housing-finance bill had just hit the top of his reading pile. But lo and behold, he had recently acquired a book of the escapist variety. He said he had just gotten a copy of David Sedans' latest book: Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls. (Hmm....)

Let's see--the latest offering by one of the funniest writers on the planet, versus S. 1217. You make the call.

But knowing his discipline, he probably read S. 1217 cover to cover before he picked up Sedans. (Just for the record, I would have done it in the exact opposite order.)

There was actual news released on June 20 that we brought up during our session because we know what a news junkie he is, and because we are serious journalists. We brought with us that day's numbers released by the National Association of Realtors[R] (NAR) on May existing-home sales. Total existing-home sales in May 2013 were up almost 13 percent from one year ago. …

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