WASHINGTON, DC-President Obama has nominated Joseph A. Smith Jr.to take the helm of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, a post thathas been vacant for more than a year. If he is confirmed by theSenate, Smith will take over a role that has been led by theagency’s chief operating officer, Edward DeMacro, during theinterim. Smith has been the commissioner for North Carolinasince 2002. Prior to that he was general counsel for Centura Banks.His term as commissioner ends in March.

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One of his chief responsibilities will be, of course, oversightof the GSEs, which have been in government conservatorship for thepast two years. Assuming he is confirmed, Smith will take theFHFA’s helm with the House of Representatives under Republicancontrol.

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Many expect to see stepped-up scrutiny of the GSEs by theHouse--as well as renewed calls for their privatization. ScottGarrett (R-NJ) is expected to take over the Subcommittee on CapitalMarkets, Insurance and Government-Sponsored Enterprises for theHouse Financial Services Committee, which will likely be theplatform from which Republicans will launch their campaign.

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Earlier this year three Republicans, including Sen. JohnMcCain (R-AZ), introduced an amendment to the financial reformbill that would require the government to end the conservatorshipof Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years after the bill becomes law.It was shot down, of course, but it did include a detailed roadmapas to how the GSEs could mbe phased out with relatively littlepain. Observers expect to see elements of this planreintroduced.

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The shift in the House--and the election result in general—willlikely increase pressure on the Administration to communicate aclear set of objectives and timeframes for the resolutionof conservatorship, Sam Chandan, head of Real CapitalAnalytics, told GlobeSt.com in an earlier interview. “There arestill broad disagreements about the government’s role in thestructure of housing finance,” he said. “The need for compromise inthe House and Senate suggests that debate will weigh in favorof a much reduced public role, on issues such as GSE reform as wellas the tax treatment of mortgage interest.”

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