Local Politics

N.C. banking chief to oversee Fannie Mae

Posted November 12, 2010 1:50 p.m. EST

— President Barack Obama on Friday nominated North Carolina Commissioner of Banks Joseph Smith to become director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

FHFA regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two quasi-governmental agencies that buy up mortgages from lenders so they can provide more loans, as well as 12 Federal Home Loan banks nationwide.

"Mr. Smith brings to this position both tremendous expertise and a deep commitment to strengthening our housing finance system for the American people," Obama said in a statement.

Smith still must be confirmed to the post by the U.S. Senate.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac suffered huge losses in the 2008 mortgage crisis, and Congress is looking to restructure their operations. If confirmed to the FHFA post, Smith would oversee any changes that lawmakers demand.

Smith was named North Carolina banking commissioner in 2002 by former Gov. Mike Easley. His term expires at the end of next March, although Gov. Beverly Perdue could reappoint him.

As commissioner, he oversees financial institutions in North Carolina, the licensing and regulation of mortgage banking operations and the regulation of other consumer finance enterprises. He is a founding member of the Board of Managers of State Regulatory Registry LLC, which is implementing a nationwide mortgage licensing system.

Mark Pearce, the deputy banking commissioner, recently left his post to head a new consumer division at the FDIC.