Consumer Advocates Shut Out of Housing Conference.

Yesterday we set the stage for next week's day-long conference on housing policy, a day-long discussion between stakeholders and policy-makers about how to fix Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and everything else that goes along with the task. One problem: There are no explicit consumer advocates on the panel of stakeholders debating the issues, and Zachary Goldfarb reports that they're not happy about it:

"Apparently being a community organizer qualifies you to be president, but it's not good enough to be part of HUD and Treasury's think tank on housing," said NCRC chief executive John Taylor, whose group works with hundreds of community organizations to promote access to financial services for low- and middle-income people.

I've posted the entire list of panelists after the jump; while some, like Ellen Seidman and Marc Morial, can be relied upon by consumer advocates, there is no one there explicitly representing the interests of the people who actually take out loans. That's something of a surprise, because consumer advocates have worked closely with the administration, especially on financial reform, and maintained a productive relationship with the administration as key boosters of the Dodd-Frank bill. Treasury officials told Goldfarb that consumer advocates would still be involved with the conference; I'll have more on the conflict here later today and why Treasury didn't get any consumer advocates onto the panel.

Other fast facts on the makeup of the panel: Lewis Ranieri invented the mortgage-backed security at the heart of this mess while a trader at Salomon Brothers in the 1970s and 1980s. Mark Zandi is one of the Obama administrations favorite outside economists, in part because he used to advise John McCain, providing independent credibility, and in part because he's been a steady booster of the stimulus.

-- Tim Fernholz

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