WASHINGTON — While Congress has been unable to pass housing finance reform, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have done a good job of adhering to some of the spirit of recent bipartisan legislation, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.
Speaking at a Ginnie Mae conference on Monday, Zandi said he was "disappointed" when the Senate failed last year to pass a reform bill from Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, that have would unwound the government-sponsored enterprises and created a new system.
However, the Federal Housing Finance Agency is "effectively moving the GSEs in the direction Johnson-Crapo would have taken," especially in terms of risk-sharing deals and bringing private capital into the mortgage market, Zandi said.
Fannie and Freddie have been issuing mortgage-backed securities where private investors share in the credit risk under directives by the FHFA.
"This was a better approach than the legislation," Zandi said, because the GSEs were allowed to let the "process unfold and experiment" with different risk-sharing structures.
"They have done a surprisingly good job on that front," Zandi said.
Although a new administration could take a different approach in the future, he expects it will become a permanent structure in the housing market going forward.
"The ship has left the port and it would be pretty hard to turn it around," Zandi said.