On Thursday, President Donald Trump released a massive proposal that, among other things, would end the government conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but now it looks as though that won’t be happening anytime soon.
In a section of the 132-page document entitled “Reform Federal Role in Mortgage Finance,” the Trump administration proposed ending the conservatorship of Fannie and Freddie and privatizing the government-sponsored enterprises.
But despite this proposal, S&P Global Ratings announced its outlook and ratings on the GSEs remained unchanged.
That’s because the ratings agency doesn’t believe the companies’ conservatorship status is going to change – at least not yet.
“We do not believe Thursday's proposals are likely to be enacted within the coming two years,” the company stated. “The OMB’s proposal includes several principles discussed in prior congressional attempts to redefine the role of the housing-related entities, notably the 2013 bipartisan bill sponsored by Sens. Corker and Warner that failed to secure the requisite broad support from lawmakers.”
But if the proposal does pass exactly as it is currently written, S&P said it would likely lower its AA+/A-1+ ratings on Fannie and Freddie’s senior debt securities. The agency explained that due to the GSEs’ policy role and integral link to the government, it currently rates the likelihood of extraordinary government support, in case of need, is almost certain.
However, steps to privatize Fannie and Freddie would lead the company to reevaluate its assessment. The weaker its new link to the government, the closer the new rating for senior debt securities would move to its CCC+ profile.
“We do not see substantial evidence that the OMB's proposals are likely to be enacted within the coming two years,” the company reemphasized. “The proposed changes to F&F do not provide much detail nor specify a timeframe for implementation. We believe the proposed changes would necessitate congressional approval, and we think it is unlikely that Congress would bring these proposals to a vote before the November mid-term congressional elections.”
As bipartisan legislation would require 60 votes in the Senate, and Republicans currently only hold 51, S&P explained it is not likely that Congress will even look at the proposal until 2019.
In fact, even Department of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained GSE reform isn’t happening in 2018, but still holds out that it will come during the Trump administration.
“We will continue to monitor both administrative and congressional initiatives aimed at reforming F&F, and the U.S. federal housing finance framework, more generally,” S&P stated. “Unless and until we come to believe that one of these reform initiatives will garner political support broad enough to be likely to be enacted within the coming two years, our ratings on F&F are unlikely to decouple from our ratings on the U.S. government.”
To read more about the Trump administration’s proposal for housing reform, click here.