UPDATE: Obama ended up proposing US Rep. and housing dove Mel Watt, D-N.C. for the Fannie-Freddie regulator job over Zandi. 5/1.
EARLIER: Frustrated with home-finance regulator Edward DeMarco's refusal to write down loan values for millions of Americans whose inflated mid-2000s mortgages are still worth more than their homes, the Obama administration wants to replace him as regulator of government-controlled home finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Wall St Journal says a leading candidate is West Chester-based economist Mark Zandi, of Moody's Analytics, who has combined sober economic assessments with generally supportive comments on Obama's modestly stimulative policies in his many financial-news and Congressional committee appearances.
But people who have worked closely with Fannie and Freddie through their torturous recent history aren't sure the switch would speed the slow housing recovery. Convincing appearance and data control is certainly part of the job, and Zandi is good at those. But it's also important that the regulator be able to bring the agencies and the industry along with him -- areas in which Zandi's career as a private-sector economist haven't given him top-level exposure.
DeMarco, a PhD economist, has both kinds of qualities. He's a career Federal Home Finance Agency official who combines deep knowledge of how home finance works, and breaks down, with a solid working relationship with his counterparts at Treasury, HUD, FHA, Fannie and Freddie.