Corporate Finance

Senate Banking Chair Releases Plan To Privatize Freddie, Fannie

The companies are in their eleventh year of conservatorship following the financial crisis.
Lauren MuskettFebruary 4, 2019
Senate Banking Chair Releases Plan To Privatize Freddie, Fannie

The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Mike Crapo, has released an outline of his proposal to end government control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, though key details remain unresolved.

The plan would let Fannie and Freddie continue to operate as private mortgage guarantors but open them up to new competition while reducing systemic risk and preserving the existing infrastructure in the housing finance system, Crapo said in a statement.

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“We have engaged in a robust process over the past several Congresses on housing finance reform, holding many hearings, briefings, meetings, and negotiations,” Crapo added. “The time is now to resolve this issue and I look forward to working with my colleagues as we move forward.”

In response to the proposal, the CEO of the National Association of Home Builders, Jerry Howard, said Crapo has been a voice of reason in the debate over the agencies. “I absolutely do think that capital flow in the housing finance system is so important to our economy and our society that it should be dictated by the will of Congress, not any one bureaucrat.”

Meanwhile in its own statement, the Mortgage Bankers Association said it welcomed the chairman’s proposals as a “significant sign of his continued commitment to work toward finally ending the conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and ensuring a stable and liquid market — with an explicit, paid-for government guarantee — for both single-family and multifamily mortgages.”

The top Democrat on the Banking Committee, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, said there should be hearings on the housing market.

“Too often Congress and the White House have put Wall Street ahead of working people, and we cannot let that happen when it comes to the stability of our housing market,” Brown said.

Last week, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Joseph Otting, told his agency’s employees he was expecting a plan to take Fannie and Freddie out of conservatorship to be released by the Treasury Department and the White House within weeks.