It appears that Freddie Mac´s new CEO Charles E. "Ed" Haldeman, Jr. is in for a surprise. The former chairman and CEO of Putnam Investment Management, LLC insisted in an interview with American Banker today that he wanted to participate in the reshaping of the government sponsored enterprises. Amid calls alternately for their elimination or rehabilitation, Haldeman is expecting to have a say in the final formulation of a plan for ending their government conservatorship. "I want to be involved in a debate where we identify the advantages and disadvantages of each possibility," he said.
But last time we checked, a Freddie exec is the last person who can expect to have much say over his company´s future. The Obama administration was quick to utilize the GSEs, which have been in public conservatorship since last fall, in its attempts to stem the foreclosure crisis. But the administration appears to be in no hurry to grant entities more independence.
Haldeman acknowledged some element of this constraint right away: "I totally get the function of the regulator and the need to have the approval and the involvement of the regulator in much of what Freddie does," he told the Banker.
That arrangement may last longer than Haldeman has let himself imagine, however. A recent strategic report from the GSEs´ direct regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, offered not even hint of detail on the structure of the two companies in the future. It did list as a goal, however, the continued use of the GSEs to further housing policy goals.
And although Haldeman clearly expects a seat at the table, the fate of Fannie and Freddie will remain in the hands of strategists in the White House for the foreseeable future. Haldeman will be lucky if he gets any say at all.
For more from the new Freddie head, look for a profile in tomorrow´s Banker.