Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

November 26, 2013

Reiss on Government’s Role in Housing Finance

By David Reiss

The Urban Land Institute New York Blog posted Housing Finance Leaders Gather to Discuss the Future of Freddie and Fannie about a recent panel on the housing finance market. It begins,

Housing finance industry leaders came together last week to debate the future role of government-sponsored lending giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Both entities were placed under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) during the financial crisis from which they have yet to emerge.

Panelists included David Brickman, Head of Multifamily for Freddie Mac, Robert Bostrom, Co-Chair of the Financial Compliance and Regulatory Practice at Greenberg Traurig, Mike McRoberts, Managing Director at Prudential Mortgage Capital Company, David Reiss, Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, and Alan H. Weiner, Group Head at Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital.

The debate centered around the proper role for the mortgage giants and to what extent government-backed entities should intervene in capital markets.

A market failure or liquidity crisis is the only reasonable basis for government intervention in the housing market, according to Reiss. “However, it is not possible for the government to create liquidity only in moments of crisis, so there is a need to have a permanent platform that is capable of originating liquidity at all times,” said Brickman. Fannie Mae, which was created during the Great Depression and Freddie Mac, which was created during the Savings and Loan crisis, were both responses to past market failures.

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