The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) was down over 1% to close at 56.09, with all 24 index components showing afternoon price declines.
Also on Friday, there were several reports that President Obama was set to nominate Rep. Mel Watt (D., N.C.) as the new permanent director for the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the regulator of Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC).
Watt is a member of the House Financial Services Committee, and if he is able to survive likely resistance from Republican members of the Senate, his appointment is expected to push Fannie and Freddie to allow principal reduction as part of mortgage loan modification. This type of modification has been resisted by acting FHFA director Edward Demarco.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) said in a statement later on Wednesday that "Mel Watt is a senior and well respected member of the committee, but he is not the issue. The issue is the administration's continued inaction and refusal to put forward an actual plan to reform our nation's unsustainable housing finance system."Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken under government conservatorship in September 2008. Hensarling said that following "the largest, most costly taxpayer-funded bailout in history . . . the administration's response to the crisis, the Dodd-Frank Act, did nothing to reform these failed mortgage giants." "Unlike the administration, our committee is working to create a sustainable housing finance system that ends taxpayer bailouts and abolishes Fannie and Freddie as government-sponsored enterprises," Hensarling said. "This is a heavy lift, especially with divided government. That is why leadership from the administration is so crucial, and why the administration's silence and refusal to release a reform plan is so disappointing." Breckenridge Insurance Group/OSC CEO Tracey Carragher said later in a statement that Watt's "experience with issues of housing and homeowner finance and his Congressional record as a consumer champion qualify him well for this role." OSC is a provider of lender-placed insurance to cover lenders' collateral risk, when borrowers allow homeowner's insurance policies to lapse, or the lender is unable to obtain proof of insurance coverage. Lender-placed insurance (LPI) is also known as force-placed insurance. "Rep. Watt will face many challenges ahead, but we urge him to maintain the agency's focus on lender-placed insurance reform," Carragher said. "We hope that he will advance the agency's recent initiatives to investigate and end inappropriate practices in the LPI industry, which have been detrimental to homeowners and taxpayers."