Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Obama Seeks New Design For Housing, Fannie/Freddie

From Reuters.com:

The Obama administration called for "fundamental change" at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but a long, politically explosive debate lies ahead on the future of the bailed-out mortgage giants and housing policy that affects millions of Americans and billions in investment.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Tuesday raised basic questions about the government's long-standing role in subsidizing the $10.7 trillion housing market and supporting the historic "American dream" of home ownership.

Critically for both homebuyers and investors, he backed some form of government guarantee for mortgages. Geithner said a key question was whether the private sector could provide insurance or guarantees as part of a new home financing regime with enough safeguards to avoid another mortgage meltdown.

"It is not tenable to leave in place the system we have today," Geithner said.

"The challenge is to make sure than any government guarantee is priced to cover the risk of losses, and structured, to minimize taxpayer exposure," he told housing industry leaders at a conference convened by the Treasury almost two years after the government seized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to save them from collapse.

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