Feb 11

Past Event

Restructuring the U.S. Residential Mortgage Market



  • Thoughtful Reform to Housing Policy

    Alice Rivlin: Clearly, housing policies need to be amended, but it’s critical that we factor in how changing these policies will affect the nation’s future.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • Wanted: A New Lending System

    Karen Dynan: The economic recovery is impaired by the sluggish housing market, so we need to commit to a new lending system that will shore up the market and aid the recovery, as well.

    Karen Dynan

  • Little Government Intervention

    Dwight Jaffe, University of California, Berkeley: My whole question is with government insurance--and I think a market with very little government intervention works just fine.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • No Evidence Crisis Brought On by Bad Products

    Christopher Mayer, Columbia University: There is no evidence that the mortgage crisis was brought on by bad products; it was the underwriting that was questionable.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • Advantages to Government Insurance

    S. Wayne Passmore, Federal Reserve Board of Governors: We think there are some clear advantages with government–provided catastrophic insurance for mortgage-backed instruments.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • Coming Full Circle on Regulation

    Edward Pinto, American Enterprise Institute: We’ve come full circle. Today’s call for more conservative regulation will take us right back to where we were in 1989.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • Reforming Federal Housing Policies

    Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury: Reforming federal housing policies is a complex matter that will take deliberation and time; but it’s clear that replacing the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be an integral part of the process.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • Affordable Housing and Ownership Incentives

    Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury: Government efforts to help provide affordable housing and create home ownership incentives played a part in creating the housing crisis but, there were other factors, as well.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • A Market Without Government Intervention

    Alan Greenspan, Greenspan Associates: It’s hard to say what the housing market would look like without government intervention. We know interest rates would be higher and the size of the market would be smaller, but would that be a bad thing?

    Alice M. Rivlin


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There is wide bipartisan agreement that government housing policies, past and present, need to be re-evaluated given their role in the financial crisis. While the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was not included in financial reform legislation last year, the Obama administration and congressional leaders are vowing action on these government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) this year. Will the new majority in the House of Representatives wind down the housing giants and if so, how fast? Can the already weak housing market survive without some kind of an explicit government back-stop? Can consensus be reached?

Read more about the Obama administration's plan for reforming the U.S. housing market »
View archived video at C-SPAN.com »

On February 11, the Initiative on Business and Public Policy at Brookings hosted a day-long forum to discuss the issues and the options ahead as policymakers discuss the government's role in the U.S. residential mortgage market. Secretary Timothy Geithner remarked on the administration's strategy for reforming the nation's housing finance markets. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan delivered the keynote address. Four papers written by experts in the housing market and finance field were released and discussed, and two panels tackled the broader issues the papers raise.

Selected papers and presentations are available below, all in PDF format.



Event Agenda

  • 9:30 AM -- Welcome

  • Reforming the Mortgage Market

    • The Honorable Timothy Geithner

      U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

  • 10:00 AM -- Panel One: GSEs - Options and Issues

  • 10:25 AM -- Presentation One: Catastrophic Mortgage Insurance and the Reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

    • Co-Author: Diana Hancock

      Deputy Associate Director, Division of Research and Statistics

      Federal Reserve Board of Governors

    • Co-Author: S. Wayne Passmore

      Associate Director, Division of Research and Statistics

      Federal Reserve Board of Governors

    • Discussant: Christopher Mayer

      Paul Milstein Professor of Real Estate

      Columbia University

    • Discussant: John Quigley

      I. Donald Terner Distinguished Professor and Professor of Economics

      University of California, Berkeley

  • 11:15 AM -- Presentation Two: Government’s Role in the Housing Finance System: Where Do We Go From Here?

    • Discussant: Dwight Jaffee

      Willis Booth Professor of Banking, Finance, and Real Estate

      Co-Chair, Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, University of California, Berkeley

    • Discussant: Richard Herring

      Jacob Safra Professor of International Banking and Co-Director, Wharton Financial Institutions Center

      University of Pennsylvania

  • 12:15 PM -- Keynote Address

    • Alan Greenspan


      Greenspan Associates

  • 1:30 PM -- Presentation Three: The Economics of Housing Finance Reform: Privatizing, Regulating and Backstopping the Mortgage Market

    • Co-Author: David Scharfstein

      Edmund Cogswell Converse Professor of Finance and Banking

      Harvard Business School

    • Co-Author: Adi Sunderam

      Harvard University

    • Discussants: Viral Acharya

      Professor of Finance, Leonard N. Stern School of Business

      New York University

    • Discussant: Donald Marron


      Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center

  • 2:20 PM -- Presentation Four: Toward a Three-Tiered Market for U.S. Home Mortgages

    • Discussant: Michael Fratantoni

      Vice President of Research

      Mortgage Bankers Association

    • Discussant: Lawrence J. White

      Professor of Economics, Stern School of Business

      New York University

  • 3:20 PM -- Presentation Five: Eliminating the GSEs as Part of Comprehensive Housing Finance Reform

    • Author: Peter Wallison

      Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies

      American Enterprise Institute

    • Discussant: Phillip Swagel

      Visiting Professor of Finance and Director of the Center for Financial Institutions, Policy, and Governance

      Georgetown University McDonough School of Business

    • Discussant: Sarah Rosen Wartell

      Executive Vice President

      Center for American Progress

  • 4:10 PM -- Panel Two: GSEs - What Have We Learned?


February 11, 2011

9:30 AM - 5:00 PM EST

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105