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Treasury outlines administrations critical housing issues
WASHINGTON (8/18/10)--At a housing conference Tuesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner outlined what the administration has identified as significant issues that have to be addressed in restructuring the government-sponsored housing enterprises and the housing finance industry. He added that there must be a new system that eliminates the conflict between Freddie Mac’s and Fannie Mae’s public policy role and the need to enhance shareholder returns. “Based on the panel discussions after Geithner’s remarks, it appears that the issues of most concern are the role of the government and the need for transparency in the mortgage securitization market,” said Jeff Bloch Tuesday. Bloch is senior assistant general counsel for the Credit Union National Association. “As for the role of government, the panels’ thoughts ranged anywhere from limited guarantees for only certain types of mortgages and securities to having the entire housing finance industry under the control of one large government agency. There was also agreement that more transparency and disclosure was needed in the mortgage securitization market and that although this was addressed in the Dodd-Frank Act, the success of these provisions will depend on the implementing regulations,” Bloch added. Additional issues made during the conference:
* The role of the government in promoting stability in the market in good times and bad. Specifically, the role and extent of the federal guarantee and whether it's to be explicit, or implicit as it was before the collapse of the industry, and the extent that the private market absorbs losses. For example, one idea here is to set up an insurance fund, similar to deposit insurance, in which premiums from the private sector go to a fund that pays losses and the losses beyond that are paid by the government; * The extent to which there should be financial support for affordable housing and the extent that this should encourage rental housing instead of home ownership; * The makeup of the mortgage securitization market and the need for transparency. The Dodd-Frank Act addresses a number of these issues; and * The time that would be necessary to transition to a new system.
National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial, American Enterprise Institute Fellow Alex Pollock, Bank of America Home Loan President Barbara Desoer, and other academics and industry insiders were among the panelists.


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