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The rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

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Abstract

We describe and evaluate the measures taken by the U.S. government to rescue Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008. We begin by outlining the business model of these two firms and their role in the U.S. housing finance system. Our focus then turns to the sources of financial distress that the firms experienced and the events that ultimately led the government to take action in an effort to stabilize housing and financial markets. We describe the various resolution options available to policymakers at the time and evaluate the success of the choice of conservatorship, and other actions taken, in terms of five objectives that we argue an optimal intervention would have fulfilled. We conclude that the decision to take the firms into conservatorship and invest public funds achieved its short-run goals of stabilizing mortgage markets and promoting financial stability during a period of extreme stress. However, conservatorship led to tensions between maximizing the firms’ value and achieving broader macroeconomic objectives, and, most importantly, it has so far failed to produce reform of the U.S. housing finance system.

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  • Frame, W. Scott & Fuster, Andreas & Tracy, Joseph & Vickery, James, 2015. "The rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2015-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2015-02
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    Cited by:

    1. Rice, Tara & Rose, Jonathan, 2016. "When good investments go bad: The contraction in community bank lending after the 2008 GSE takeover," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 68-88.
    2. 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.
    3. Michael Jacobs, 2016. "Stress Testing and a Comparison of Alternative Methodologies for Scenario Generation," Journal of Applied Finance & Banking, SCIENPRESS Ltd, vol. 6(6), pages 1-7.
    4. W. Scott Frame, 2015. "Introduction to Special Issue: Government Involvement in Residential Mortgage Markets," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 43(4), pages 807-819, November.
    5. Frame, W. Scott & Gerardi, Kristopher S. & Willen, Paul S., 2015. "The failure of supervisory stress testing: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and OFHEO," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2015-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fannie Mae; Freddie Mac; housing finance; financial crisis; government intervention;

    JEL classification:

    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management

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