Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending – New York Times, September 30, 1999

Ever hear the mass media ignorantly talk about “this financial mess Obama inherited from Bush? The New York Times knows better. They warned of the impending crisis in 1999, and made the source of the problem clear.

In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets — including the New York metropolitan region — will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.

Bush tried to rein in the GSEs:

“In the early and mid-2000s (decade), the Bush administration called numerous times for investigation into the safety and soundness of the GSEs and their swelling portfolio of subprime mortgages. On September 10, 2003 the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing at the urging of the administration to assess safety and soundness issues and to review a recent report by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) that had uncovered accounting discrepancies within the two entities. The hearings never resulted in new legislation or formal investigation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as many of the committee members refused to accept the report and instead rebuked OFHEO for their attempt at regulation”.

via Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending – New York Times.

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