Ginnie Mae president Kevin G. Chavers wants his agency to play a central role in getting a new type of mortgage security off the ground next month.
Fasits, or financial asset securitization investment trusts, "are a way to expand the range of offerings in the mortgage securities market," Mr. Chavers said in an interview. "Over the last 25 years mortgage securities have helped expand the supply of mortgage money by attracting investment capital" through Wall Street.
One difference between Fasits and existing structures is that new loans can be added before the security matures. Also, the structure of assets in a Fasit can be modified under certain conditions.
Fasits may "further the evolution of the mortgage securities market" in a way that will benefit lenders and investors alike, Mr. Chavers said.
Mr. Chavers spoke following a seminar that Ginnie Mae sponsored in New York to look at issues surrounding Fasits, which were created through the 1995 federal budget act and can be issued starting Sept. 1.
Ginnie Mae's role would be to guarantee loans that are pooled into Fasits so that investors do not have to fear losing their principal if the products sour. In return, Ginnie Mae would receive guarantee fees of 20 basis points or more.
Wall Street representatives said specifics, like exact tax treatment and how credit analysts would rate the products, would have to be worked out before Fasits could take off.
But investment bankers and traders said they were encouraged that Ginnie Mae, which issues billions of dollars of mortgage securities each year, was taking such an interest.
Indeed, Ginnie Mae and Wall Street have a tight relationship, with the agency backing about one-third of the $1.8 trillion of mortgage securities on the market.
Fasits are designed to pool assets into a security that offers a favorable tax structure to issuers and a variety of options to investors. The products were created to securitize credit card, home equity, and other assets in addition to mortgage loans.
Mr. Chavers said the products could be used in tandem with the Remic- real estate mortgage investment conduit-structure that Ginnie Mae has traditionally used to package FHA and VA loans.
He said Ginnie Mae would help forge the market for Fasits as a way of continuing its trailblazing of the mortgage securities market. The agency was the first to issue mortgage-backed securities in the 1970s, a move that was followed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"We want to remain in the forefront of product development," Mr. Chavers said.
Fasits also offer a potential way for Ginnie Mae to meet budget expectations set by President Clinton for 1998, Mr. Chavers said. "It's preferred that we work within an established product structure instead of trying to build a brand new product ourselves."
A leading bond management company is furthering its efforts in the mortgage securities market. Pimco Funds Distribution Company this month launched two mortgage-backed funds, one that aims for long-term growth and another for mortgage bonds with shorter durations.
The funds are available exclusively to institutional investors for an initial investment of at least $5 million.
Pimco, based in Stamford, Conn., already manages $47 billion of mortgage-backed securities through various mutual funds and other investment vehicles.