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Opinion, commentary, and analysis on everything that makes the U.S. housing economy tick -- not to mention the ghosts in the machine, too. Written by HW's team of editors and reporters each business day.
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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: Who will lead HUD until Carson gets started?

Fewer mortgages? Blame the Fed

January 16, 2017

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news coming across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on larger issues.

Zac Anderson of the Herald Tribune is reporting that Sarasota, Florida, Housing Authority Director William Russell was picked by President-elect Donald Trump's transition team to “help lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on a temporary basis until a permanent team is in place.”

The expected next director, Dr. Ben Carson, is transitioning through the nomination process in the meantime.

Anderson reports that, “Russell has experience working for HUD in Washington, D.C. He served as deputy assistant secretary for public housing at the agency before moving to Sarasota in 2005 to take over the city's troubled housing authority.”

In coverage of the aforementioned confirmation hearing, CNN Money reporter Tanzina Vega seems to think it’s going fairly well:

During his nomination hearing to become Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Thursday, Ben Carson assured his questioners that he would not seek to gut the agency or take rental assistance away from the millions of people who rely on it.

That gave some reassurance to lawmakers and housing advocates who were concerned about Carson's lack of experience and about comments he has previously made about HUD and public assistance in general. (In a 2015 op-ed piece for the Washington Times, Carson criticized a HUD rule meant to desegregate neighborhoods calling it "social engineering.")

Vega notes that Carson faces a housing authority in crisis. After all, massive waiting lists, budgetary shortfalls and steadily decreased funding await Dr. Carson.

We can all agree the next HUD director will have their work cut out for them.

Speaking of housing authorities, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday he sent state lawmakers a bill to replace an expired property tax abatement program that sought to provide incentives for affordable housing construction in New York City, according to this piece in Newsday.

"The governor’s office said the bill keeps the housing units affordable for 40 years, compared to the previous 35-year requirement, and ensures construction workers a rate of $45 an hour or $60 an hour, depending on the location of the project," reports Emily Ngo.

Also, everyone is wondering if and when President-elect Trump will "fire" the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray.

Bloomberg View is reporting it is not going to be that easy.

"On the day of his removal, Cordray would be within his rights to go to court to seek a judgment that the president acted beyond his constitutional authority," reasons Cass Sunstein.

Here's the issue with a summary dismissal of Cordray:

This would be quite a spectacle. As the law now stands, Cordray would almost certainly win. Things could get pretty ugly. Would a lower court issue an injunction against the president? Would he comply with it?

The Trump administration could make a less ambitious argument. It could concede the legitimacy of independent agencies in general, but attack the independence of the CFPB in particular, because it is headed by a single person (rather than the more usual multimember commission) and because of the sheer breadth of its authority over the economy.

Bloomberg Markets report a dip in demand for mortgages at two of the nation’s largest lenders; and you can thank the Fed for that.

Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. said they’re starting to see demand for home loans taper as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates,” report Jennifer Surane and Lauren Keller.

U.S. home loan originations may drop 17 percent to $1.5 trillion in 2017, according to Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes decreased in November because of the increase in mortgage rates and limited inventory, according to figures released last month by the National Association of Realtors in Washington.

Click here to read the full report, which includes an interview with the Wells Fargo CFO.

Raise your hand if you remember Bernie Madoff.

His Ponzi scheme ripped off both the rich and poor in perhaps the most famous case of Wall Street excess.

So what is he up to in prison?

The headline in MarketWatch says it all: Bernie Madoff is cornering the prison market on Swiss Miss hot chocolate.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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