92% — The share of new mortgage loans backed by the U.S. government

Government’s Overwhelming Role in Mortgages


Fannie alone ranks as the world’s largest bank by assets, while Freddie is in the top ten. The firms’ subsidized mortgages encourage Americans to take on a lot of debt. Their balance sheets, consisting of long-term investments financed with short-term borrowing, make them highly susceptible to sudden credit freezes. Their government ownership means taxpayers stand to lose tens of billions of dollars if the firms get into trouble again.


On Friday, the U.S. Treasury published a “white paper” with some ideas on how to handle the behemoths. Fannie and Freddie can curb borrowers’ ability to get too deep into debt by requiring larger down payments and lowering loan limits. They can increase the fees they charge for mortgage guarantees to bring those fees more in line with the risk they’re taking on. And they can gradually wind down their businesses, ceding the market to private lenders who must have ample capital to protect them from bankruptcy in the event of losses. All that can help remove market distortions and save taxpayers’ money.

Comment: Time to phase Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of the Mortgage business. Begin to close the doors now and fully shutter them in 5-7 years! Click through to the WSJ article for a helpful chart.


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