- City lab’s analyzes why Billionaires Don’t Pay Taxes in New York, concludes that recent housing boom has been in the “ultralux” market and that the owners pay a fraction of their share due to a tax code that shifts the burden from owners to renters and from the wealthy to the poor.
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an analysis of federal housing subsidy programs and their effectiveness
- Corelogic’s National Foreclosure Report for March 2015 finds that while delinquency rates are down to 3.9% the percentage of mortgagees struggling to make their payments is still above pre-recession levels.
- National Association of Realtors released data showing decreased homeownership rates across regional metro areas of the U.S., analysis of this data lead to the conclusion that continued decline in homeownership means the gains are going to fewer people and likely leading to worsening inequality in the U.S.
- The Roosevelt Institute’s Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Prosperity by Joseph Stieglitz, seeks to completely revamp the rules and regulations that shape our economy, corporate behavior and the financial sector – with a view toward creating shared prosperity. Proposals related to real estate finance include, providing §11 bankruptcy protection for homeowners and creating a public option for the supply of mortgages.
- The Urban Institute released Welding a Heavy Enforcement Hammer has Unintended Consequences for FHA Mortgage Market concludes that the significant, easily triggered liability of both the False Claims Act and the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act have had a chilling effect, causing some lenders to do less origination to reduce their litigation risk.
The Financial Institutions and Consumer Financial Services Section and the Real Estate Transactions section of the American Association of Law Schools hosted a joint program at the AALS annual meeting on The Future of the Federal Housing Finance System. I moderated the session, along with Cornell’s Bob Hockett.
Former Representative Brad Miller (D-N.C.) keynoted. Until recently he was a Senior Fellow, at the Center for American Progress and is now a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He was followed by four more great speakers:
- Mark A. Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies, Cato Institute
- Laurie Goodman, Center Director for the Housing Finance Policy Center, Urban Institute
- David Min, University of California, Irvine School of Law
- Jennifer Taub, Vermont Law School
The program overview was as follows:
The fate of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are subject to the vagaries of politics, regulation,public opinion, the economy, and not least of all the numerous cases that were filed in 2013 against various government entities arising from the placement of the two companies into conservatorship. All of these vagaries occur, moreover, against a backdrop of surprising public and political ignorance of the history and functions of the GSEs and their place in the broader American financial and housing economies. This panel will take the long view to identify how the American housing finance market should be structured, given all of these constraints. Invited speakers include academics, government officials and researchers affiliated to think tanks. They will discuss the various bills that have been proposed to reform that market including Corker-Warner and Johnson-Crapo. They will also address regulatory efforts by the Federal Housing Finance Agency to shape the federal housing finance system in the absence of Congressional reform.
During the presentations, I felt a bit of awe for the collective knowledge of the speakers. The program also emphasized for me how much there always is to learn about a topic as complex as housing finance.
Laurie Goodman was kind enough to let me post her PowerPoint slides from the program. If you are looking for a good overview of the current state of housing finance reform, you will want to take a look at them.
I was a bit depressed by the slide titled, “Why GSE reform is unlikely before 2017:”
1. There is no sense of urgency: GSEs are profitable, current system is functioning.
2. Higher legislative priorities.
3. No easy answers as to what a new housing finance system should look like.
4. Bipartisan action requires compromise, and some believe they have more to lose than to gain by compromising in this arena.
While the slide depressed me, I think it offers a pretty realistic assessment of where we are. I hope Congress and the Obama Administration prove me wrong.