New regs for Fannie and Freddie?

Marketplace Staff May 23, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: The nation’s two government-sponsored mortgage companies could soon be facing the tightest regulation they’ve ever faced. That’s thanks to a bill that was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday — it would establish stronger oversight for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But it’s already drawing criticism from the Treasury Department, and it’s chances in the Senate are uncertain. Jeremy Hobson reports from Washington.

JEREMY HOBSON: We’ve been here before — as recently as two years ago. But no action was taken in the Senate. This time, some are predicting a repeat. Bert Ely is a banking consultant and longtime critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

BERT ELY: There are a number of aspects of this legislation that important parties for one reason or another don’t like. And that’s a recipe for paralysis over in the Senate.

Among the concerns is an amendment that would water down control over the financial soundness of the mortgage giants. It would put the focus on the risk Fannie and Freddie’s actions pose to their own bottom lines — not to the overall U.S. economy. And then there’s the political part.

ELY: Chairman Dodd of the Senate Banking Committee is running for president.

A distraction, on top of the committee’s other distraction: the subprime market. But there’s one reason to believe the bill will go through, says Peter Wallison at the American Enterprise Institute.

PETER WALLISON: Everyone wants to have better regulation at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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