What to Worry About in 2017: Housing Market Edition

Et Tu, Fannie & Freddie? Stocks are breaking records, the dollar’s soaring, and gas at the pump is still (too?) cheap. And, y’know, the economy actually doesn’t seem to be doing too badly. What could go wrong? (at least, in the housing market). If you’re going to be a worrier, anyways, you might as well worry...
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Fixing the Housing Mess

“If That Mockingbird Don’t Sing, Papa’s Gonna Buy You a Diamond Ring” You can scarcely pick up (OK, click on) an Op-Ed page these days without encountering the latest housing remedy du jour. Today’s proposal is courtesy of Alan Blinder, Princeton professor and former Federal Reserve official: As nationalized companies that dominate the mortgage market,...
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Winston Churchill on “The Crash of ’08”

Whodunnit?  “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac!” Never have so many owed so much to so few. –Winston Churchill If Winston Churchill had been alive to witness The Crash of ’08 and the events leading up to it, I think he would have offered an updated version of his famous observation about the Royal Air Force pilots who defended...
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The World’s Two Biggest Red Herrings

The Fannie and Freddie Sideshow What do you call two companies that have cumulatively lost tens of billions, are now wards of the state, and continue to receive multi-billion dollar government subsidies? If their names are “Fannie” and “Freddie,” the answer is:  the world’s two biggest red herrings. Or, if you prefer, a sideshow to...
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Things That Make Housing More Expensive

Real Estate Pop Quiz Quick, which of the following items make housing more expensive? A. Higher interest rates; B.  Limiting (or eliminating) the mortgage interest deduction; C.  Less capital for funding mortgages, due to a shrinking role played by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the so-called Government-sponsored enterprises); D.  Requiring Buyers to put down 20%....
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Fannie, Freddie’s Original Sin

The Fannie/Freddie Dilemma, Cont. No Government-Sponsored Entity (“GSE”) can serve two masters. –New Testament OK, so that’s not exactly how the Biblical quote goes. But it’s an apt description of the conundrum facing would-be reformers of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two now-state wards that buy or guarantee a stunning 96% of all U.S....
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