President Barack Obama is seeking public comment on the future of the mortgage finance system. A list of seven questions published today target the future of Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), as well as the government's overall role in housing policy, according to a joint release from the US Treasury Department and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These questions seek the opinions of mortgage market participants, industry groups, academic experts and consumer and community organizations:
  • How should federal housing finance objectives be prioritized in the context of the broader objectives of housing policy?
  • What role should the federal government play in supporting a stable, well-functioning housing finance system and what risks, if any, should the federal government bear in meeting its housing finance objectives?
  • Should the government approach differ across different segments of the market, and if so, how?
  • How should the current organization of the housing finance system be improved?
  • How should the housing finance system support sound market practices?
  • What is the best way for the housing finance system to help ensure consumers are protected from unfair, abusive or deceptive practices?
  • Do housing finance systems in other countries offer insights that can help inform US reform choices?
"The Obama administration is committed to engaging the public as we consider proposals for reforming the housing finance system in the context of our broader housing policy goals, and the best steps to get from where we are today to a stronger housing finance system," said HUD secretary Shaun Donovan. The administration said it will first seek public response via the Federal Register listed at regulations.gov. The administration will then hold a series of public forums on housing finance reform. According to the joint release, this period of public comment is designed to "deepen the federal government's understanding of the issues" as it shapes its policy response. Write to Diana Golobay. Disclosure: the author holds no relevant investment positions.