Christopher Cox, in one of his last acts as the Securities and Exchange Commission's chairman, took Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's regulator to task in a letter questioning whether the agency was upholding its duty to "preserve and conserve" the government-sponsored enterprises' assets.

In the Jan. 16 letter to Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart, Cox asked whether Fannie and Freddie were being pressed too hard to bolster the housing markets at the expense of profits. As a member of an oversight board advising Lockhart, Cox urged him to develop an "exit strategy" from conservatorship that would restore the GSEs' finances.

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