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Regulating housing GSEs: thoughts on institutional structure and authorities

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  • W. Scott Frame
  • Lawrence J. White

Abstract

Many of the benefits that the housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) transmit to homebuyers stem from an implied federal guarantee arising from the GSEs’ charter benefits and past supervisory forbearance. But this implicit guarantee also represents a risk to taxpayers if one of these GSEs—Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) System—becomes insolvent and the government provides financial assistance. ; In the wake of a $5 billion accounting restatement by Freddie Mac in 2003, concerns about taxpayer liability associated with the housing GSEs have led to various legislative proposals to reorganize their regulatory oversight. This article discusses these proposals, drawing on lessons from U.S. banking regulation to identify and evaluate the points of contention. ; The legislative proposals generally pertain to institutional design (where the safety-and-soundness regulator is located, how it is funded, and whom it should supervise) and institutional authorities (for example, discretion to alter capital requirements and the ability to appoint conservators and receivers). ; With respect to institutional design, the authors conclude that there may not be a clearly dominant approach. In regard to institutional authorities, the authors recommend that the safety-and-soundness regulator have responsibility for approving new programs and other activities, the discretion to set both minimum and risk-based capital requirements, receivership authority, and other enforcement authorities comparable to the federal banking agencies.

Suggested Citation

  • W. Scott Frame & Lawrence J. White, 2004. "Regulating housing GSEs: thoughts on institutional structure and authorities," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 2, pages 87-102.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedaer:y:2004:i:q2:p:87-102:n:v.89no.2
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    Cited by:

    1. Lawrence J. White & W. Scott Frame, 2004. "Emerging Competition and Risk-Taking Incentives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Working Papers 04-02, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    2. Stojanovic, Dusan & Vaughan, Mark D. & Yeager, Timothy J., 2008. "Do Federal Home Loan Bank membership and advances increase bank risk-taking?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 680-698, May.
    3. W. Scott Frame & Diana Hancock & Wayne Passmore, 2012. "Federal Home Loan Bank Advances and Commercial Bank Portfolio Composition," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44(4), pages 661-684, June.
    4. Frame, W. Scott, 2016. "The federal home loan bank system and U.S. housing finance," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2016-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    5. W. Scott Frame & Andreas Fuster & Joseph Tracy & James Vickery, 2015. "The Rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 25-52, Spring.
    6. Robert Eisenbeis & W. Frame & Larry Wall, 2007. "An Analysis of the Systemic Risks Posed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and An Evaluation of the Policy Options for Reducing Those Risks," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 31(2), pages 75-99, June.
    7. W. Scott Frame & Lawrence J. White, 2010. "The Industrial Organization of the U.s. Single-Family Residential Mortgage Industry," Working Papers 10-11, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    8. Lawrence J. White & W. Scott Frame, 2009. "The Federal Home Loan Bank System: Current Issues in Perspective," Working Papers 09-18, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.

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    Keywords

    Housing ; Government-sponsored enterprises;

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