Bringing Back Subprime? The Hazards of Restructuring the GSEs

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October 2013, Dean Baker and Nicole Woo

There have been a number of proposals for replacing the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with a system under which private financial institutions would issue mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that carry a government guarantee. This paper raises a number of questions about the merits of such a system. It points out that both the gains to low-income families seeking to become homeowners from such a system and interest rate savings are likely to be relatively modest, and that there are few obvious safeguards that would make this new system sounder than the system of privately-issued mortgage-backed securities in the bubble years.

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