Shaky housing market about to get even shakier

Shaky housing market about to get even shakier

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More rumors surface on future explicit guarantee of Fannie Mae MBS

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts say there are rumors the Treasury Department will recommend an explicit guarantee from the government for Fannie Mae mortgage-backed securities in its white paper due out in February. The Dodd-Frank Act called for the Obama administration to release a plan for the future of the government-sponsored enterprises by Jan. 31, but The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the deadline may be pushed back to the middle of February. There is much debate within Congress on how much of a role the government should play in the future of housing finance, specifically whether or not taxpayers should support securities if they go bad. "There is some chatter that GSE Reform, which is supposed to be launched officially within the next week or so with the release of the Treasury White Paper on the topic, will lead to an explicit guarantee for FNMA MBS," BofAML analysts wrote in a report. Credit Suisse analysts said earlier in January they expect a government guarantee to be set in stone when the Treasury makes its report. Still, the consensus is that GSE reform is several years away. Any solution will demand congressional action, and with the House and Senate sparring over healthcare reform and a possible repeal of Dodd-Frank, investors may be waiting some time for action. The February issue of HousingWire magazine explores the many possible futures of Fannie and Freddie Mac. In the meantime, BofAML analysts believe headline volatility may produce buying opportunities on Ginnie Mae and Fannie Mae swaps. "We remind investors that GSE Reform will most likely be a multi-year process that likely will be accompanied by many volatility-inducing headlines," the analysts said. "As a general principal, we recommend fading the volatility, as we think the duration of the process means that shorter-term forces will be the primary drivers of price action on a short-to-intermediate term basis." Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter: @JonAPrior

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