Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae, the three major Government Enterprises created to control the U.S. housing market, issued 99.3 percent of all mortgage backed securities (MBS) in 2012, according to Freddie Mac’s 2013 Investor Presentation. As recently as 2005 these government agencies backed just 45 percent of all mortgages issued in the United States, although they did purchase vast quantities of the mortgages backed by private issuers.
Fannie Mae, created by President Roosevelt during the New Deal, and Freddie Mac, created by Congress in 1970, were both nominally private corporations before the housing bubble popped in 2008. Investors had long charged Fannie and Freddie less to borrow money since they were created by the federal government and it was assumed creditors would be bailed out if the companies ever went under. That is exactly what happened during the financially crisis costing U.S. taxpayers $154 billion so far.
Last year, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced that the Obama administration would pursue legislation that would “wind down the GSEs and bring private capital back into the market, reducing the government’s direct role in the housing market.” That, of course, never happened. Instead, government control of the housing sector rose every year under Geithner’s watch from 95.2 percent in 2008 to 99.3 percent today.
Conservatives have long pushed for elimination of the housing Government Enterprises, arguing that the federal government’s role only enriches bankers at the taxpayers expense, distorts markets, and makes housing unaffordable. A recent Heritage Foundation study found the Fannie and Freddie could be completely privatized without any major disruption to the U.S. housing market.