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Fitch GSE ratings not shaken by proposed reforms

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The Treasury's goal of not shaking up the mortgage finance market with its proposed GSE reforms may hold steady, as Fitch Ratings Monday reaffirmed the GSEs' long- and short-term default ratings. The ratings agency said the reforms proposed Friday will greatly impact Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, though not for a long time. Additionally, Fitch is confident policy makers will make further changes to the plan, which means the process of reform will take a longer period of time, resulting in more stability for the GSEs in the short term. Analysts' confidence grew on reports from the Treasury saying the Obama administration is confirming its ongoing support of Fannie and Freddie. Both institutions have mortgage guarantee and debt obligations that carry on for at least 30 years, Fitch said Monday. Therefore, the ratings agency plans to maintain Fannie and Freddie's long and short-term issuer triple-A default ratings. It also reaffirmed the GSEs' long-term senior debt rating at triple-A. Fitch said the reforms proposed last week — which include the development of national servicing standards and refinements in mortgage servicing practices — will ultimately help investors in the residential-mortgage backed securities markets. "Each of these proposals is a potential catalyst for an eventual increase in issuance of private label U.S. RMBS," said Kevin Duignan, a managing director at Fitch. "The proposals also increase the likelihood that a U.S. covered bond market will develop in the mid-term." Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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