The American Banker published an article Monday describing the relationship between the former director of the Federal Housing Administration
David Stevens, and the Mortgage Bankers Association
The assertions here go beyond the simple implication that Stevens relaxed regulatory federal standards toward mortgage bankers in order to jockey for his current job as head of the MBA
The relationship as described feels both marginally unsettling and yet not totally unexpected.
But what is unexpected — and this is no attempt at a condemnation of what appears to be a quality, well-researched article — is the omission of David Stevens' most notable accomplishment as head of FHA since he took office in July 2009.
The short tenure of Stevens was shadowed by his appointment in October 2009, less than six months after he started, of a chief risk officer: Freddie Mac
veteran Bob Ryan.
Until Ryan came on board, the FHA never had anyone in charge of making sure staffers performed within the confines of responsible business practices.
Stevens told HousingWire in a December 2010 exclusive: "(Ryan's) office has created a strong regimen of risk management reporting that never existed before. New policies will go through Bob's office to make sure we are getting that independent review," Stevens said.
Both men talked in that interview of the need to keep their jobs bigger than themselves.
"We firmly believe the FHA has a truly needed and responsible mission," said Ryan, "and in order to fulfill that, you need to have a very thorough risk-management infrastructure."
But this is public talk, of course, and American Banker reporters Jeff Horwitz and Kate Berry have done their homework in digging up relevant emails.
Yet, it is important to balance all relevant issues before reaching a conclusion. Could David Stevens really ink biased housing policy with Bob Ryan as chief risk officer?
Logically, it just doesn't seem likely.
That said, considering that the top spot at the FHA was filled by Ryan after Stevens left for the MBA, it's also possible that the American Banker article only scratches the surface of these "cozy" mortgage finance relationships.
Write to Jacob Gaffney
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