Treasury’s point man on GSE reform stepping down

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A top aide to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin who led the Trump administration’s push to reform the government-sponsored enterprises is stepping down, according to people familiar with the matter.

Craig Phillips will leave the agency next month, said the people, who asked not to be named because his departure hasn’t been announced publicly. As a counselor to Mnuchin, he took the lead on several domestic financial policy initiatives, including suggestions for rolling back regulations on banks and developing plans for freeing the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from federal control.

A Treasury spokesman declined to comment.

Craig Phillips, counselor to the secretary at the U.S. Treasury

It’s unclear how the departure of Craig Phillips will impact the administration’s GSE reform plan, which is still being developed.

Bloomberg News

Under Phillips’ watch the Treasury issued a series of lengthy reports calling for sweeping revisions to banking regulations put in place after the 2008 meltdown. However, much of the effort is incomplete as various agencies are still working through the suggested changes.

On Fannie and Freddie, Phillips was one of the architects of an upcoming proposal for releasing them from government conservatorship. President Trump signed a memorandum in March calling on Treasury to come up with a plan for overhauling the companies, which have been under federal control since receiving a taxpayer bailout at the height of the housing slump more than a decade ago.

It’s unclear how Phillips’ departure will affect Treasury’s work on the issue, which it was expected to release later this year. Hedge funds that own Fannie and Freddie shares have long been hopeful that Phillips would recommend the companies hold initial public offerings with much of the proceeds going to existing investors.

A former executive at BlackRock Inc., Phillips joined the Treasury in 2017 after raising more than $100,000 for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. His status as a “Hillblazer’’ made a number of conservatives in the administration and Congress wary, and he was unable to land a Senate-confirmed job.

But his longtime friendship with Mnuchin, from their days doing housing finance on Wall Street, helped him snare the counselor post at Treasury.

Mnuchin, according to a person familiar with the matter, had proposed Phillips to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie and Freddie’s regulator. That appointment ultimately went to Mark Calabria, a libertarian economist who previously worked for Vice President Mike Pence.

The New York Times earlier reported Phillips’ planned departure.


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