Nomination signals Otting tenure as acting FHFA leader likely to be short

Joseph M. Otting’s role of serving simultaneously in two positions as both comptroller of the currency and as acting director of the federal regulator of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that dominate the secondary mortgage market may be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

Late last week, the White House sent to the Senate the nomination of Mark A. Calabria to be the permanent director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). If confirmed, Calabria would serve a five-year term (succeeding former Rep. Mel Watt, whose term as FHFA director ran out Sunday, according to the White House).

The FHFA supervises Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank System (which includes the 11 Federal Home Loan Banks [FHLBanks]) and the Office of Finance. Since 2008, FHFA has also served as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Otting was tapped as “acting director” just about two weeks ago. In a statement he issued then, he pointed to his work at the OCC in “promoting the federal banking system’s ability to encourage economic growth and create jobs” and efforts to modernize the anti-redlining Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which is closely aligned with housing. Otting has been comptroller since November 2017.

“Successfully leading both the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the FHFA would not be possible without the quality staff and leadership at both agencies,” Otting said in the statement. “I look forward to continuing the vital work of the OCC to ensure the federal banking system operates in a safe, sound, and fair manner just as I look forward to leading the FHFA in its important roles overseeing the Federal Home Loan Bank System and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

White House release: Seventeen Nominations Sent to the Senate