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Trump’s blueprint for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac reform expected “within days”

Trump administration is on the verge of releasing plans for housing finance reform

The Trump administration’s blueprint for housing finance reform is set to be released “in coming days,” according to Reuters. Bloomberg was even more specific, and earlier.

“On Thursday, Treasury is expected to release its long-anticipated plan – requested by President Donald Trump – for ending Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorships,” Bloomberg said in a story that cited people familiar with the matter.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the companies that back more than half the mortgages on U.S. homes, were seized by the federal government in 2008 as the nation edged toward a financial collapse. Since then, dozens of plans have been floated, unsuccessfully, for what to do with them.

President Donald Trump signed a memorandum at the end of March directing the U.S. Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to compile reports on reform of the nation’s housing finance system and the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are known. 

Trump’s memo called for reform to “promote competition in the housing finance market and create a system that encourages sustainable homeownership and protects taxpayers against bailouts.”

That plan for freeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from federal control was sent to top officials at the White House and various government agencies last month to prepare for public release, Bloomberg reported.

"The report will address ways to rebuild Fannie and Freddie’s capital, as well as their path out of conservatorship," the Aug. 21 story said. "But it is unlikely to discuss potential ways to pull off initial public offerings, which is one way to raise capital that some officials have previously examined."

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were seized by the government after regulators decided the mortgage giants had become insolvent – a finding some investors said was based on some accounting slight-of-hand. While the GSEs didn’t back subprime mortgages, they bought subprime mortgage bonds for their investment portfolios. Those became worthless after home prices stopped gaining in 2006 and subprime foreclosures began spiking a year later.

The government takeover of Fannie and Freddie wiped out investors. A stock that was once considered as safe as investing in U.S. Treasuries because of an implied government backing went from trading at more than $60 a share to being worth pennies. Fannie and Freddie were kicked off the New York Stock Exchange in 2010 and now trade on OTC Markets. The stock closed on Wednesday at $2.92.

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