Fannie Mae CEO Warns Against Housing Finance Reform

Speaking as a guest presenter at the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday, Fannie Mae President and CEO Timothy Mayopoulos warned against any type of reform where housing finance is concerned, telling the audience that “the (current) system works,” according to areport from the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Mayopoulos said that while the reputation of Fannie Mae and its sibling GSE, Freddie Mac, were hurt by the $188 billion bailout they required in September 2008 when the government took them under conservatorship, Fannie Mae ended up providing stability for the housing market. As of December 2014, Fannie Mae has paid back about $134.5 billion in dividends to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

Regarding the possibility of housing finance reform, Mayopoulos said it was hard to predict what the next session of Congress would bring. Many have called for ending the FHFA‘s conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; still others have called for, and even proposed legislature for, eliminating the two GSEs altogther.

“Fannie Mae was able to repay the taxpayer within five years. It is sustainable,” Mayopoulos said. “The system works. Any new system being discussed would involve a lot of change and would have a huge amount of risk. It’s important for policymakers to consider how much change do you want to introduce after the crisis when things have stabilized.”

Egbert Perry, a Rotarian who is the founder of the Integral Group and chairman of Fannie Mae, said the GSE has provided $4.3 trillion in liquidity for the mortgage market since 2009 and that its current Book of Business totals $3.1 trillion, most of which is in secondary market mortgage loans.

Mayopoulos, when asked by Perry how Fannie Mae would operate without the capital that currently totals $2.4 billion and is scheduled to be reduced by $600 million per year until it has reached zero, said that the decision on how the GSE would operate without capital was made when the Agency was placed in conservatorship.

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