By David H. Romer, Justin Wolfers
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Extra resources for Brookings Papers on Economic Activity: Spring 2009
The confusion over what the Treasury could and could not do was evident in the writings of outside observers. ” Krugman wondered whether this reflected politics. No politics were involved: the Treasury did not do this because it was not legal. Although the criticism of the Bush administration was off target, the Treasury had not explained the situation clearly. The long-term status of the GSEs remains at this writing to be decided by Congress. Each of the GSEs before conservatorship could be thought of as two related entities under one roof: a securitizer and monoline insurer that packaged and guaranteed mortgages with relatively good underwriting standards, and a hedge fund that leveraged the funding advantage from its implicit guarantee.
Even though the public balance sheet was effectively behind the firms, this could change in the future, and the spread over Treasuries seemed to reflect this uncertainty. The confusion over what the Treasury could and could not do was evident in the writings of outside observers. ” Krugman wondered whether this reflected politics. No politics were involved: the Treasury did not do this because it was not legal. Although the criticism of the Bush administration was off target, the Treasury had not explained the situation clearly.
The agreements struck with the GSEs took one small step in the direction of fostering future competition, in that the companies would have to pay a fee to the government for the explicit backing of the securities they issued starting in 2009. The details remain to be determined, but one could imagine over time allowing banks to pay such a fee and receive government backing on their securitizations of conforming loans. This would allow entry, which, one hopes, would drive innovation for the benefit of American homebuyers.
Brookings Papers on Economic Activity: Spring 2009 by David H. Romer, Justin Wolfers