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The GSE implicit subsidy and the value of government ambiguity

  • Wayne Passmore
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    The housing-related government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the "GSEs") have an ambiguous relationship with the federal government. Most purchasers of the GSEs' debt securities believe that this debt is implicitly backed by the U.S. government despite the lack of a legal basis for such a belief. In this paper, I estimate how much GSE shareholders gain from this ambiguous government relationship. I find that (1) the government's ambiguous relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac imparts a substantial implicit subsidy to GSE shareholders, (2) the implicit government subsidy accounts for much of the GSEs' market value, and (3) the GSEs would hold far fewer of their mortgage-backed securities in portfolio and their capital-to-asset ratios would be higher if they were purely private.

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    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2005-05.

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    Date of creation: 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2005-05
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    1. Passmore, Wayne & Sparks, Roger & Ingpen, Jamie, 2002. "GSEs, Mortgage Rates, and the Long-Run Effects of Mortgage Securitization," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 25(2-3), pages 215-42, Sept.-Dec.
    2. Brent Ambrose & Michael LaCour-Little & Anthony Sanders, 2005. "Does Regulatory Capital Arbitrage, Reputation, or Asymmetric Information Drive Securitization?," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 113-133, October.
    3. William Poole, 2003. "Housing in the macroeconomy," Speech 35, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    4. James E. Pearce & James C. Miller, 2001. "Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae: their funding advantage and benefits to consumers," Proceedings 737, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    5. Steven A. Sharpe, 2002. "Reexamining Stock Valuation and Inflation: The Implications Of Analysts' Earnings Forecasts," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 632-648, November.
    6. Ambrose, Brent W. & Thibodeau, Thomas G., 2004. "Have the GSE affordable housing goals increased the supply of mortgage credit?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 263-273, May.
    7. James F. Gatti & Ronald W. Spahr, 1997. "The Value of Federal Sponsorship: The Case of Freddie Mac," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 25(3), pages 453-485.
    8. Edward Kane, 1999. "Housing Finance GSEs: Who Gets the Subsidy?," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 197-209, May.
    9. Peter M. DeMarzo, 2005. "The Pooling and Tranching of Securities: A Model of Informed Intermediation," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 18(1), pages 1-35.
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