Housing finance, beyond Fannie and Freddie

Five Takeaways on Housing-Finance Reform From Obama’s Town Hall

And in downturns, their support helped keep mortgages available for new borrowers. A case in point: Since the financial market collapse in 2007, almost 90% of the country’s mortgages have been bought or guaranteed by the two companies. Some critics blame Fannie and Freddie’s troubles on government mandates to finance more loans for lower-income Americans. But Wall Street firms started the rush into risky subprime and exotic loans; Fannie and Freddie just followed their competitors’ lead. The real problem with Fannie and Freddie was that the public assumed correctly, as it turns out that the government wouldn’t allow them to fail, making them more attractive to lenders and investors.

Fix the mortgage finance system

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These measures are designed to protect taxpayers from having to provide a massive bailout of the mortgage market. A bill working its way through the House, on the other hand, would replace Fannie and Freddie with almost nothing. The feds would do little more than monitor the integrity of mortgages bundled into securities and then sold. The House bill would return housing finance to private investors and reduce the distorting effects of extensive federal involvement. But critics worry that the House plan might eliminate the availability of 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages.

A housing tax credit that helps

The Corker-Warner bill is a good start Mr. Obama again made overtures towards the bill thats been the work of bipartisan lawmakers, led by Sens. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D., Va.), to replace Fannie and Freddie with a new framework of having the government act as a reinsurer of certain mortgage-backed securities. The principles they have announced are pretty consistent with the ones announced by me, said Mr.


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