You may not know much about Craig S. Phillips, special counselor to Steven Mnuchin, the United States Treasury secretary. Because Mr. Phillips was not a political appointee, he did not face congressional scrutiny before he began directing our nation’s housing policy, one of his main tasks.
Getting to know Mr. Phillips and his background is a worthwhile exercise, especially because he’s determining the Trump administration’s path forward on Fannie Maeand Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giants that remain in conservatorship.
Mr. Phillips certainly knows a thing or two about Fannie and Freddie. As the leader of Morgan Stanley’s mortgage desk during the peak mortgage-mania years of 2004 and 2005, he ran the operation that bundled loans and sold them to the two government-sponsored enterprises. When those loans blew up and the government sued Morgan Stanley, Mr. Phillips was a named defendant in the initial case — a case that resulted in the firm paying a $1.25 billion settlement.
But first things first.
Mr. Phillips’s landing at Treasury is peculiar from a political standpoint. He contributed over $100,000 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last fall.
Much more germane is the work he’s done on Wall Street, much of it in the mortgage arena.
According to regulatory records, Mr. Phillips has spent 38 years at an array of Wall Street firms, including Credit Suisse First Boston, Morgan Stanley and, most recently, BlackRock, the huge asset manager. While there, he headed the financial markets advisory and client solutions teams at BlackRock Solutions, the powerhouse advisory unit; he left in January.