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

Is Elizabeth Warren running for president in 2020? It’s a question that has come up more and more often since the election of Donald Trump in November, and one that has serious implications for banks and other financial institutions.

Warren, after all, was the architect behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but faced fierce Republican opposition to becoming its director, and ran for the Senate instead. That decision seems especially prescient given the current environment, where CFPB Director Richard Cordray is being assailed from all sides, while Sen. Warren’s star is on the rise.

As a TIME article noted in 2011 at the beginning of Warren’s campaign for a Senate seat, “banks face a more direct threat from a potential Senator Warren… From the Senate, she’d have an easier time rallying public support for pro-consumer laws that banks will undoubtedly hate, and would be able to form alliances, trade favors, and build coalitions with like-minded lawmakers to address financial reform.”

The TIME article posited that Warren would “likely wind up in an influential committee leadership role,” and that “Warren at the head of a CFPB hemmed in by bank-friendly (and bank-funded) lawmakers could do far less damage than a Warren ensconced in the Senate for the next six years or more.”

The fortune tellers at TIME certainly got the committee part right, as Warren currently serves on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, (not to mention the Armed Services Committee), but it seems that not even they envisioned Warren running for president.

So, is she or isn’t she? When asked on National Public Radio last week, Warren answered with her standard, “I don't have any plan to do that.” But her actions suggest otherwise.

Warren has used her position on the Senate Banking Committee to grill banking executives, opposed Trump at virtually every opportunity and written a book outlining her vision for growing the middle class — a classic prerequisite for running for president. This weekend she checked off another pre-presidential box: speaking at the NAACP's Fight for Freedom dinner. From the Detroit Free Press:

Warren, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 and has become a hero of the progressive movement for her fights against Wall Street and big banks, said that the economic numbers in the country today might be positive, but not for those living in poverty or in minority communities.

“I came to Detroit to say, the fight against racism and inequality and ugliness in all its forms is a righteous fight … it’s your fight, it’s our fight. It’s the fight of every single American who believes in justice and equality,” she said. “Yes there are some great economic numbers, but the truth is that working families are holding on by their fingernails. Poverty is swallowing up cities and small towns alike.”

Running and winning are two different things, of course; just ask Hillary Clinton. But Warren certainly seems to be laying the groundwork for a larger role. 

The Mortgage Bankers Association released its recommendations for GSE reform last week, which has been roundly supported by the mortgage industry. That's not surprising, given the industry input into the roadmap, but it bodes well for the adoption of that reform model. The MBA's key principles for GSE reform include:

  • Preserve what works:  30-year fixed rate single-family mortgage, TBA market, and long-term multifamily financing options
  • Minimize transition risks to avoid market disruptions
  • Leverage competition and existing infrastructure
  • Ensure liquidity through all economic cycles
  • Explicit guarantee of eligible single-family and multifamily MBS only
  • Increased levels of private first loss capital ahead of government
  • Strong capital supervision and regulation of activities
  • Promote competitive primary market for lenders of all sizes/models

The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals lauded the MBA's "thoughtful and constructive contribution to the housing finance reform debate."


“Considering that Hispanics currently represent roughly 40% of the nation’s first-time homebuyer population, NAHREP was particularly pleased with the MBA’s formidable attention to affordable housing,” Pareja said. “Congress needs to prioritize Housing Finance Reform and should seriously consider many of the principles laid out by the MBA in their deliberations.”

The Mortgage Collaborative also applauded the recommendations

“The issue of GSE reform is critically important for the independent mortgage banks, community banks and credit unions that today originate more than 3 out of every 4 home loans in the country,” said Kittle. “The MBA’s reform proposal recognizes the value of a competitive and diverse primary market, and calls for important reforms that will provide stable liquidity for the 30-year fixed mortgage and preserve a level playing field for smaller lenders.

This week looks to be as eventful as ever, with a Wells Fargo shareholder meeting on Tuesday and the Congress returning to vote on a budget that would avoid a government shutdown. HousingWire will be covering it all.