Although there was no single cause for the financial crisis of 2008, fundamental flaws in the U.S. housing finance market certainly contributed to the near collapse of this nation's financial system. There is broad bipartisan agreement that given their role in the financial crisis, government housing policies need to be reevaluated. In response, the Obama administration has recommended reducing the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in housing finance, with the ultimate goal of replacing these government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) with a private market that would become the primary source of mortgage credit and bear the burden of risk.
In The Future of Housing Finance, Martin Neil Baily and his contributors discuss the issues and options that policymakers face as they reassess the government's role in the U.S. residential mortgage market. Will Congress agree, and if so, how fast will it move? Can the already weak housing market survive without some kind of an explicit government backstop? Who will protect consumers against risk? Will thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages become a thing of the past? Can consensus be reached?
Specific topics addressed include
the introduction of a new system that reduces the incentives for excessive risk taking and includes a limited government role in providing credit guarantees for qualifying mortgage securities;
the gradual withdrawal of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the housing finance system;
new approaches to regulating mortgage securitization, with the primary goal of financial stability; and the introduction of government-backed guarantees through institutional structures designed to limit moral hazard.
The volume also includes remarks by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the Obama administration's strategy for reforming the nation's housing finance markets and a keynote address delivered by former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan.