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Prepared Remarks of Dr. Mark A. Calabria, Director of FHFA, at FHFA Swearing In Ceremony

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4/15/2019

​​​​​​​Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Dr. Mark A. Calabria, Director

Federal Housing Finance Agency

Constitution Center, Washington, D.C.

Thank you everyone for coming out this morning.  I am so touched and honored by your presence.  I will never forget that it is only due to the commitment, support and effort of so many friends that I am able to stand here today as Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Foremost has been the many sacrifices made by my mother, Janie Jones.  My mother’s 20 plus years with the Fairfax County government instilled in me a deep appreciation of the value of public service. And since Mom served in the Comptroller’s Office with Fairfax County, she also instilled in me the fact that whatever the goals of government, the numbers must add up. 

I also want to recognize the love and support of my partner, Allison Randall, who is here with us this morning.  Allison’s life-long work to end domestic violence has been a constant inspiration to me.  Her many years with DOJ’s Office on Violence against Women has not only inspired me, but also given me an up-close daily view on the functioning of federal agencies.  I also want to commit to all FHFA’s employees, and their families, that during my tenure as Director, I will do everything I can to guarantee that FHFA is a safe and welcoming work environment.  

I have been extremely fortunate to spend the last two years working for Vice President Mike Pence, in a work environment I can only describe as family.  I want to acknowledge the support of the Vice President, the Second Lady, along with everyone in the greater Pence family.  I would not be standing here today without their support.

While he could not be here today, I want to express my deep appreciation to Comptroller Joseph Otting for his service as Acting FHFA Director during my confirmation process.

I also want to thank my good friend John Roscoe, who many of you have come to know over the last few weeks.  I am certain you have come to respect him, as I did during our time together at the White House.  I look forward to now being able to again work with John.    

I also want to express my appreciation to the many members of the Senate who worked to make my confirmation a reality.  My nomination would not have moved out of Committee and reached the floor without the efforts of Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo and former Committee Chair Richard Shelby, along with their staff.  

Lastly, I want to thank President Trump for the trust and confidence placed in me.  This is truly the greatest honor of my life. 

I also want to acknowledge the President’s leadership on this issue. The recently signed Presidential Memo lays out a constructive path for mortgage finance reform.  I look forward to working with the Administration on this issue. 

My first tour of federal service began as staff for the United States Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs during the years leading up to the crisis.  As many of you know, my work there centered on our mortgage finance system.  

After the accounting scandals at first Freddie and then Fannie, the then Chairman Senator Shelby and his staff began to worry that the current regulator, OFHEO lacked the tools it needed to effectively supervise these entities and protect our mortgage finance system.  With those concerns began the legislative efforts that resulted in the 2004, and later 2005 Shelby bills, which later formed the core of The Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA).

We had a straightforward objective -- to create a world class regulator that possessed the tools that other regulators, such as the OCC, FDIC or Fed, possessed.

I believe with HERA, many of those needed tools were finally put into place.  I will always be extremely proud to have played a part in those efforts, effectively helping give birth to this very agency.

FHFA has made tremendous progress since its birth in 2008, a development I’ve continued to watch with great interest from the outside.

It is my foremost objective to cement those gains.  Lock in what you have accomplished.  It is all too easy to watch regulatory improvements erode as the memory of the last crisis fades.  

My second objective is to build upon that strong foundation.  I believe Senator Shelby’s objective of creating a “world-class regulator” has largely been achieved.  But there is more work to do.  Markets change and advance, so must we.  

And while I believe significant gains have been made in the economy, there is no firmer foundation to the housing market than strong job and wage growth, I do not believe we have cured the business cycle or the housing cycle.  Booms will eventually be followed by busts.  It is during these moments we must prepare for the inevitable downturn. 

This is not simply a matter of macroeconomics.  While I am of course all too familiar with foreclosure numbers during the crisis, and the devastating losses in household wealth, I spent a considerable amount of my time as Banking Committee staff taking calls from families in financial distress.  These are real lives we impact, and while I am at heart a “numbers guy”, we should ne​ver lose sight of the impact on families when mortgage finance goes wrong.

Equally so, we should always take great pride in the impact of our work when mortgage finance goes right.  When that new homeowner starts to build equity, build a better future for themselves.  That is what the American Dream is about.  

I enter this office with a great sense of urgency.  One I hope you share.  The mortgage market was at the center of the last crisis, as it has been for many past financial crises, both in America and globally.  I believe the foundations of our current mortgage finance system remain vulnerable.  After years of strong house price growth, too many remain locked out of housing, while others are dangerously leveraged. We must not let this opportunity for reform pass.   

I remain optimistic about America’s housing and mortgage market.  But I remain so, because I know together all of us can build a stronger, more secure foundation under that market for all Americans. 

​Thank you.​

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​​Media: Stefanie Johnson (202) 649-3030 / Corinne Russell (202) 649-3032
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