GSE Accounting Problems Threatens US Housing Market

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Accounting problems at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks could threaten US Housing Markets, according to Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He urged his fellow lawmakers to back legislation overhauling the oversight of the giant mortgage lenders.

“We've heard from some that Congress should be cautious in its efforts to create a new regulator and that we should be mindful not to harm the housing markets,” Oxley said at the top of a committee hearing on the matter. “In truth, the housing markets are being threatened now by the various accounting and regulator problems at the GSEs and by the lack of a regulatory agency with real power and real authority.”

Oxley has co-sponsored a House bill with Rep. Richard Baker (R-Louisiana) which he says provides for a regulator with authority sufficient to adjust minimum capital, approve new programs, and appoint a receiver to manage failing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to oversee all three programs.

Noting that the regulartor needed to be given the authority to adjust the portfolio size of the programs, Oxley urged lawmakers to support the new oversight structure to prevent the type of accounting and financial problems that have been seen in recent months.

Treasury Secretary John Snow and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson also called on Congress to strengthen GSE oversight in written testimony to the House Financial Services Committee. They warned of near-certain financial crisis if lawmakers don't curb the vast mortgage portfolios.

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