Housing Finance

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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s profits utterly depend on having their obligations backed by the US Treasury — and thus by taxpayers.

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The claim that mortgage credit is very tight for all but pristine borrowers has been repeated so often by respected policymakers and economists that it is now taken as fact. This characterization of today’s mortgage market, however, is misleading.

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Senator Richard Shelby’s reforms look like a positive and balanced start at fixing the negative economic fallout created by the Dodd-Frank Act.

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Dianna Ingram | Bergman Group

Congress directed the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) how to set the g-fees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge for guaranteeing mortgage-backed securities, but the FHFA didn’t follow the directions.

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Today’s mortgage market is described by respected policymakers and economists as having very tight mortgage credit, but this characterization is misleading. A few statistics about FHA loans, which comprise 25 percent of government guarantee home purchase loans, are sufficient to dispel the myth that only pristine borrowers can get a mortgage.

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Claims that housing has not recovered since the financial crisis because credit is tight are everywhere: from Fed Chair Yellen to economists working within and outside the government.

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Nobody wants the old Fannie and Freddie back; nobody wants them to stay on indefinitely in conservatorship. What is required are practical steps forward, rather than designing the ideal but politically unachievable solution.c

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Covering a housing or banking story today? Here’s the latest from the experts on the AEI financial services team.

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Peter Thiel, partner of Founders Fund, speaks during the panel discussion "In Tech We Trust? A Debate with Peter Thiel and Marc Andreessen" at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California April 29, 2013.  Reuters

The year 1914 was a flexion point in history. Is Thiel right in supposing, or fearing, that 2007 was a flexion point too? There are unsettling indications that the answer is yes.

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In order to revive the private secondary-mortgage market, Congress instructed the FHFA to raise the fees, told the agency how to do it, and gave the agency a 2013 deadline. That deadline is long past. It is time for the FHFA to obey the law.

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