Fannie and Freddie Are Already Part of the State
Letter to the Editor

Sir, In their report "Government tightens grip on Fannie and Freddie" (February 20) your correspondents wonder whether the government, while it has them in its grip, should also formally guarantee their obligations. Of course, both are insolvent, if you don't count the preferred stock bought by the government--their common stock is down 99 per cent and represents a mere option on possible resuscitation.

So Fannie and Freddie have already become part of the government. They have changed from being government-sponsored enterprises to being government housing banks. As such, they are available to be directed by the government to participate in refinancing the mortgage bust based on policy, not profit. The government, as managing agent for the involuntary taxpayer investors, is already fully and in fact on the hook for all their debt and mortgage-backed securities obligations. But this is not legally explicit, as your article points out, and some Asian investors have already announced they will not buy any more of their securities without a formal guaranty.

Why create this bond market perceived risk, since the public in fact has all the risk already? Using Fannie and Freddie to address the bust would be cheaper and easier if Congress (it takes Congress) would simply enact an explicit guaranty, reflecting reality. The resulting guaranteed government housing banks should be a transition status with a firm sunset in five years. At that point, the long-term restructuring of Fannie and Freddie should be effected, making part of them truly private businesses, and part of them truly government agencies. The result: no GSEs would be left--a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Alex J. Pollock is a resident fellow at AEI.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Alex J.
Pollock

What's new on AEI

Defeating ISIS: AEI experts weigh-in before the president’s address on Wednesday
image Degrading, defeating, and destroying the Islamic State
image Wealth Building Home Loan: Building wealth through homeownership and retirement savings
image The $3 iPhone
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 15
    MON
  • 16
    TUE
  • 17
    WED
  • 18
    THU
  • 19
    FRI
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Constitution as political theory

Please join us for the third-annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture as James Ceasar, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores some of the Constitution’s most significant contributions to political theory, focusing on themes that have been largely unexamined in current scholarship.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 8:10 a.m. – Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.
Third international conference on housing risk: New risk measures and their applications

We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

Event Registration is Closed
Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation

Please join us as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his five-point policy vision to reset America’s economy.

Event Registration is Closed
Friday, September 19, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?

Please join us as a panel of distinguished experts explore the implications of the report and the consumer role in shaping the future of Medicare.

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.