Hoping to broaden its market, the Government National Mortgage Association for the first time is allowing individual investors to purchase its pooled-mortgage securities, Ginnie Mae president Kevin Chavers said in an interview.
"There is demand, and we were missing out on a liquidity source," Mr. Chavers said.
Mr. Chavers reasons that broader availability will make it easier for lenders to sell Ginnie Mae-guaranteed loans on Wall Street.
Before now, only big institutional investors like pension funds were allowed to buy Ginnie Mae real estate mortgage investment conduits. Ginnie and other mortgage securitizers create these securities, known as Remics, by pooling loans together and slicing them into various pieces, or tranches, with different interest rates and maturities.
Ginnie Mae acted because "the marketplace has become a lot more sophisticated" about investment structures and their potential risks and rewards, Mr. Chavers said. He added that recent changes in securities laws made it easier for Ginnie Mae to add retail investors to its list of eligible purchasers.
Ginnie Mae kicked off the program last month, when retail investors bought a package of Remics underwritten by Lehman Brothers. Wall Street dealers said the move was a significant first step.
"It's good to see Ginnie Mae keeping up with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have always made their Remics available to individuals," said Kevin McClintock, head of taxable fixed-income investing at Dreyfus Corp., New York.
But the move will have only a "marginal" impact on volume, Mr. McClintock said. Many individuals, he said, already invest in Ginnie Mae Remics through mutual funds that specialize in these products.
Fannie Mae, one of Wall Street's biggest clients, has named a new vice chairman: attorney and former Justice Department official Jamie S. Gorelick.
Ms. Gorelick, 47, takes a position that was vacant since September, when Franklin D. Raines resigned to become director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Until earlier this year, Ms. Gorelick was deputy attorney general, the second highest position in the Justice Department. She has also served as a staff counselor to the departments of defense and energy.
At Fannie Mae, she will serve as part of the office of the chairman, with chairman James A. Johnson and Lawrence M. Small, Fannie Mae's president and chief operating officer.