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Investments

Wells Fargo: There's a simpler way to shrink the GSEs

June 28, 2013

The structured product research team at Wells Fargo is suggesting a simpler route to government-sponsored enterprise reform — one that does not involve passage of a comprehensive GSE reform bill.

"In terms of GSE reform, the Corker-Warner bill is gaining traction, although we continue to believe it would be at least 5 to 7 years before any significant change to Fannie and Freddie will occur, given the complexity, size of their footprint and fragile nature of mortgage finance," the Wells Fargo structured product analysts wrote.

Ed DeMarco, current acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, proposed a reform time frame of five years as well. And allegedly so does former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

So even if meaningful GSE reform is passed, it will take much more time to nail down the complete restructuring of the mortgage finance behemoths.

But Wells Fargo analysts want a simpler path to reform. They suggest "continuing to increase g-fees or lowering the conforming loan limit, both of which do not require new law, would be a relatively simple way to reduce the GSE footprint and help crowd-in private markets to return."

True, it would work. But to be fair, even though everyone in mortgage finance wants to limit Fannie and Freddie's respective roles, both tactics suggested would meet certain objections.

And in the interim, talk of GSE reform is potentially doing more harm than good as recent bond volatility put GSE losses at the highest for nearly two decades.

"The ongoing specter of increasing legislation and policy changes remain a persistent concern for mortgage securities markets," the analysts write.

 

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