I have been particularly impressed with the way that the newly created Federal Housing Finance Agency has been keeping us informed on what they have been doing to help with the housing market since the credit crunch began in the summer of 2007.
Organized, neat, outspoken, timely. You only have to read the FHFA mission statement to understand what they are all about:
Promote a stable and liquid mortgage market, affordable housing and community investment through safety and soundness oversight of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.
Sounds like a necessary regulatory agency to me.
The FHFA’s predecessor, Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) was also responsible for regulatory oversight during the Fannie Mae accounting scandal and the collapse of the GSEs leading to their bailout in September 2008, had a remarkably similar mission statement as FHFA’s.
OFHEO has an important and compelling mission
to promote housing and a strong national housing finance system by ensuring the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Before the global credit crunch and US housing market decline, where was the actual oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Today the new institution replacing the old one is run by the same person (whom I find to be quite well-spoken) and their new web site is nearly identical to the old one yet the mission has now expanded to include the Federal Home Loan Banks.
The implication of promoting liquidity in the revised mission statement isn’t a new concept since that was one of the primary reasons for the existence of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the first place. And OFHEO’s advocacy of affordable housing seemed to morph from low income housing to simply making housing finance costs cheaper.
Still, I have higher hopes for all federal regulators going forward now that they have been lulled from hibernation.
After all, there’s a bear out there.