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56 | TH E M R EP O RT O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T THE LATEST GOVERNMENT Determining the Future of the FHA Long-time leader Brian Montgomery got the nod to reassume his head role at HUD. I t's been rumored since May that Federal Housing Admin- istration (FHA) veteran Brian Montgomery could possibly be returning to his post under the Trump administration, but now the speculations have been upheld. As of mid-September, Montgom- ery, who served under George W. Bush for eight years, has been nominated as the Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Housing Commissioner. Montgomery, who now operates as Vice Chairman of The Collingwood Group, a Washington D.C.-based advisory firm that he co-founded, served as Deputy Assistant to the President from 2001 to 2005. After serving under the Bush administration, he continued at his post six months into former President Barack Obama's leadership before resigning in July 2009. During his time as FHA Commissioner, his primary focus was the creation and implementation of a bill that would modernize the FHA, an issue that still looms over the administration. The bill, which was passed in the House in July 2006, increased loan limits, updated down payment assistance options, and added a risk-based premium structure. In addition, Montgomery worked closely to educate African-Americans who had interest in buying their first homes and was the 2008 recipient of the Robert J. Corletta Award, which pays tribute to those who have shown extraordinary creativity and dedication to the cause of affordable housing. "Having had the privilege of knowing Brian Montgomery for many years, I can testify to his ample qualification to lead the Federal Housing Administration," said Five Star Institute President and CEO Ed Delgado. "With his return to public service, FHA is gaining a strong and steady hand that will serve it well as it formulates responsive policy in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. I applaud the administration's choice." One of the matters Montgomery will be taking on involves the suspension of the proposed mortgage insurance rate cut required for all FHA-backed loans—a decision made a mere hour after President Trump took office in January. Ben Carson, Secretary of HUD, said that he was surprised by the cut and would work with the FHA administrator and other financial experts to examine the policy; however, the suspension came before Carson's confirmation. Though the policy may be a concern for first-time and low- income homebuyers, it could be one of the many things Montgomery plans to address, as he has already raised concerns about mortgage regulation. "To restore housing to its traditional role as an engine of economic growth and opportunity, the incoming Trump administration should pursue policies designed to make the path to homeownership possible again for fully informed prospective buyers who have the ability to carry a mortgage," Montgomery wrote to POLITICO in November. Agency to Edit Holdings The Fed plans to shed billions from its balance sheet over the coming months, report reveals. T he Federal Open Market Committee has been talking for months about normalizing its balance sheet, which currently is comprised of over $6 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and $4.5 trillion in bond holdings. Now, it looks like that day is inching closer by the minute and could arrive sometime this fall. According to a recent report by, the Fed's plan is to start slow—chipping away a total of $10 billion a month: $6 billion in government debt and another $4 billion in mortgage-backed securities. Eventually, the goal is to increase that number to $50 billion a month. The Fed first started buying up Treasury bonds and mortgage- backed securities to keep long- term interest rates down in response to the Great Recession, but it feels now is the time to allow long-term rates to return to what has historically been a normal level. Further, the Fed wants to ensure that it can continue to help the next time the economy falls into a recession. According to, with the Fed's bond holdings as high as they are and interest rates as low as they are, its hands will be tied if it wants to provide assistance. What could that mean, though? First, the report cites rising mortgage rates, due to the fact that mortgage rates are tied to yields on 10-year treasury bonds. When the Fed unloads its long-term treasuries, bond prices should decrease while yields increase, resulting in higher costs when financing a home. Second, the stock market, which has been consistent in its overall increase, will show more signs of volatility and "choppier days." The report also says that economic growth should slow once the Fed changes its monetary policy.

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