Housing Sector Stimulus
Necessary and Effective or Dangerous and Unfair?
Video
About This Event

Excerpt of Mark Fleming's Presentation


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Housing prices have declined 31 percent since their peak in 2006, and 11 million homeowners owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home. Many economists, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, view the weak housing market as a primary reason for sluggish economic growth, and many have pushed for more government intervention. The Obama administration’s Home Affordable Refinance Program has helped far fewer homeowners refinance their mortgages than projected, prompting the president to announce a renewed attempt at this effort in his new jobs bill. But is more government policy in housing an appropriate and effective answer to the weak overall economy and the drag from the housing sector?

At this AEI event, housing policy experts will discuss the condition of the housing market and evaluate policy proposals. Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic, will describe the current status and outlook of the US housing market. Christopher J. Mayer of Columbia University will present the refinance proposal that he and R. Glenn Hubbard of AEI and Columbia University first offered in 2009. AEI’s Phillip Swagel, assistant secretary for economics at the Treasury Department during the financial crisis, will assess the Hubbard/Mayer proposal and other policy options and Steve Liesman from CNBC will comment on the broader macroeconomic impact of these policies and expectations from Wall Street.

Agenda

2:15 PM
Registration

2:30 PM
Panelists:
MARK FLEMING, CoreLogic
CHRISTOPHER MAYER, Columbia University
PHILLIP SWAGEL, AEI
STEVE LIESMAN, CNBC

Moderator:
ALEX BRILL, AEI

4:00 PM
Adjournment

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Chad Hill at [email protected], 202-862-5862.    

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at [email protected], 202.862.4871.

Event Summary

As the housing market continues to slump, housing policy experts gathered Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) to discuss the market conditions and evaluate the role the government should play in its revival. Mark Fleming of CoreLogic stressed the current abundance of negative equity in geographically concentrated areas in the United States. He argued that negative equity continues to be a primary drag on the housing market, leading to an increase in foreclosures. Christopher Mayer of Columbia University offered his prescription for effective housing policy, focusing on stimulating refinancing, streamlining the regulatory process, and creating an independent trustee to wind down the government-sponsored enterprises portfolio so that portfolio considerations don’t drive lending decisions. AEI scholar Phillip Swagel discussed the difficulties of housing market reform. He agreed with most reform efforts in theory but was skeptical that the industry could execute such prescriptions efficiently. Steve Liesman of CNBC emphasized the importance of the housing market to the overall economy. A slumping housing market drags down GDP and prevents efficient movement of labor and capital, he said. 

--ALLISON STOLTE

View complete summary.
Speaker Biographies

Mark Fleming
is chief economist for CoreLogic,  America's largest provider of advanced property and ownership information,  analytics and services. He leads the mortgage analytics and economics team responsible for developing property risk and valuation models and house price indices and forecasts,  tracking real estate trends,  and producing analysis and commentary on the real estate and mortgage markets. His research interests include real estate economics,  applied econometrics and data mining.  He has published research in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Geographic Information Sciences and in the book "Advances in Spatial Econometrics,"and he is a patent author.  He is regularly quoted by trade publications and national news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal,  New York Times,  and Housing Wire and is a regular guest on news channels such as CNBC,  CBS,  NPR,  and Fox Business News. Mr. Fleming has more than 15 years' experience in the mortgage and property information business. Before joining CoreLogic,  he worked at Fannie Mae developing property valuation models for use in mortgage origination,  quality control and loss mitigation.

Alex Brill
is a research fellow at AEI. A former senior adviser and chief economist to the House Committee on Ways and Means,  he also served on the staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). In Congress and at the CEA,  Mr. Brill worked on various economic and legislative policy issues,  including dividend taxation,  the alternative minimum tax,  international tax policy,  Social Security reform,  defined-benefit pension reform,  and US trade policy. At AEI,  Mr. Brill studies the impact of tax policy in the US economy; the fiscal,  economic,  and political consequences of stimulus legislation; health care reform,  pharmaceutical spending,  and unemployment insurance reform; and financial innovation and technology.

Phillip Swagel,  an economist and academic,  was assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department from 2006 to 2009,  where he was responsible for analysis on a wide range of economic issues,  including policies relating to the financial crisis and the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He has also served as chief of staff and senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers and as an economist at the Federal Reserve Board and the International Monetary Fund. He is concurrently a professor of international economics at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy. He has previously taught at Northwestern University,  the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and Georgetown University. Mr. Swagel works on both domestic and international economic issues at AEI.  His research topics include financial markets reform,  international trade policy and the role of China in the global economy.

Steve Liesman
is CNBC's senior economics reporter,  covering all aspects of the economy,  including the Federal Reserve Bank and major economic indicators. He appears on "Squawk Box," as well as other CNBC programs throughout the business day. Mr. Liesman joined CNBC from The Wall Street Journal,  where he served as a senior economics reporter covering monetary policy,  international economics,  academic research and productivity. At the Journal,  Liesman was an energy reporter and the Moscow bureau chief (1996–98). He was a member of the reporting team recognized with a Pulitzer Prize for stories chronicling the crash of the Russian financial markets. Before joining the Journal in 1994,  Mr. Liesman was the founding business editor for The Moscow Times,  the  country's first English-language daily newspaper,  where he helped create the country's first stock index for the publication. He has also worked as a business reporter for both the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times and Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune.

Christopher J. Mayer is Paul Milstein Professor of Real Estate and co-director of the Richard Paul Richman Center for Business,  Law,  and Public Policy at the Columbia Business School. He is also research director of the Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate,  visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Mr. Mayer is also a member of the Academic Advisory Board of Standard and Poor's,  a fellow of the Homer Hoyt Institute,  a member of the board of Columbia Community Service,  and an adviser to Pathways,  a company providing rentals of single-family homes including to those facing foreclosure. He previously held positions at the Wharton School,  the University of Michigan and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Mr. Mayer has been active in advising policymakers on the financial crisis,  testifying three times before the US House of Representatives and the Senate on the use of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds and how to reduce foreclosures. He has presented research to the Congressional Budget Office,  the Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and has written numerous op-ed articles on housing and credit markets. His research has led to legislation to stem foreclosures and help homeowners.

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