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Tag Archive: Freddie Mac


Senators Near Plan to Abolish Fannie Mae, Shrink Government Role

Bloomberg
Senators Near Plan to Abolish Fannie Mae, Shrink Government Role

According to the draft, Washington-based Fannie Mae and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac would be liquidated within five years and the U.S. Treasury would assume responsibility for their existing mortgage guarantees. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators are putting the final touches on a plan to liquidate Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) and replace them with a government reinsurer of mortgage securities behind private capital.

The proposed legislation, which could be introduced this month, would require private financiers to take a first-loss position adequate to cover price declines as steep as those seen during recessions over the past century, according to a draft obtained by Bloomberg News.

According to the draft, Washington-based Fannie Mae and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac would be liquidated within five years and the U.S. Treasury would assume responsibility for their existing mortgage guarantees. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The bill, which is being written by Tennessee Republican Bob Corker and Virginia Democrat Mark Warner with input from other senators, is still being drafted. As the first serious bipartisan effort to shape a new housing finance system, it could frame a discussion that is heating up as the housing market rebounds.

“A bipartisan bill that’s thorough becomes, at a minimum, a good baseline to begin the process of the full debate that could go through Congress,” David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in an interview.

According to the draft, Washington-based Fannie Mae and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac would be liquidated within five years and the U.S. Treasury would assume responsibility for their existing mortgage guarantees. The two companies, which have been under U.S. conservatorship since 2008, package mortgages into securities on which they guarantee payment of principal and interest.

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Politics, Legislation and Economy News

Mortgage Crisis / Foreclosure  :   Fiscal Irresponsibility

Housing experts press Obama, Romney on plans to boost sector

By Vicki Needham

Housing experts are urging the presidential candidates to talk more about how they would boost the struggling sector.

Neither President Obama nor Republican candidate Mitt Romney have made the housing market recovery a focus of their campaigns, leaving housing advocates puzzled.

David Crowe, chief economist with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), called the situation “unfortunate” saying he has been scratching his head about the lack of a running conversation about how to help bolster the improving sector.

“It’s perplexing that the policymakers will say we can’t have a recovery until housing recovers and then end the sentence at that point,” Crowe told The Hill.

“You’ve got our attention but we don’t hear anything,” he said. “Neither side has offered anything of any substance.”

Crowe said he is uncertain why both camps have essentially labeled the idea a hot potato with neither side taking the opportunity to lay out their solutions.

Anthony Sanders, a real estate professor at George Mason University, said he thinks Romney will start talking about the issue after the Republican convention, into the home stretch of the election.

“I think he will be more assertive,” he said.

Still, he is surprised that the candidates haven’t addressed the issue alongside their other plans for economic growth, which include tax reform and reducing the regulatory burden on businesses.

On Monday, Obama, once again, called on Congress to pass a bill when they return from August recess next month that would cut costs for homeowners who need to refinance.

Crowe said there are legitimate solutions, similar to what Obama is suggesting, that would allow homeowners to refinance, and bring their payments down, freeing up cash for other expenditures.

Letting homeowners refinance might not be a silver bullet but it would tackle one of the lingering drags on the market, reducing the load of distressed homes, which are concentrated in the nation’s hardest hit areas, and keep prices from falling.

The NAHB has been so concerned about the lack of talk about housing at a national level that it has taken its case on the road, rousing voters to tell lawmakers about the importance of housing, Crowe said.

“We’re trying to bring attention to why no one is talking about it,” he said.

Still, with or without government help, the sector should continue to improve into next year although it won’t be fast, Crowe added.

The bill Obama has been pushing is sponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and would streamline refinancing for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers by eliminating upfront fees and appraisal costs, among other changes. The measure is part of the president’s congressional to-do list.

Crowe, like Sanders said there are remaining issues with underwriting standards and appraisals — mostly tied to the high stake the government has in the mortgage market — that are still hampering the housing market’s gradual recovery.

They also cited the uncertainty around still-unwritten rules from the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law as a hurdle for the market to overcome.

“One of the biggest problems facing the nation’s housing market is that of uncertainty,” Sanders said.

Housing experts say that after the 2008 financial crisis there were major concerns about lax lending standards, among a slew of other problems in the sector, that drove the economy to the brink of collapse.

From the time Obama stepped foot in the White House, the president should have done more and been more aggressive in helping the housing market, including taking charge of the direction of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, instead of suggesting several options and putting the question to Congress, Crowe said.

“If you’re in charge, you take charge,” he said.

Meanwhile, Obama has shifted some responsibility for what the White House can’t do on its own to Congress and the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA), which oversees Fannie and Freddie and holds the bulks of the nation’s mortgages, to provide mortgage principal reductions to struggling homeowners.

But Congress and the FHFA have balked at moving forward with the White House’s demands.

FHFA Acting Director Edward DeMarco decided earlier this month to forego the idea of reducing mortgage principal despite heavy Democratic pressure, a move that deflated the White House’s efforts.

DeMarco said his analysis showed that reducing principal balances is too risky and could cost taxpayers more money.