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Guaranteed to Fail: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Debacle of Mortgage Financeby Viral Acharya
Synopses & Reviews
The urgent demand for housing after World War I fueled a boom in residential construction that led to historic peaks in home ownership. Foreclosures at the time were rare, and when they did happen, lenders could quickly recoup their losses by selling into a strong market. But no mortgage system is equipped to deal with credit problems on the scale of the Great Depression. As foreclosures quintupled, it became clear that the mortgage system of the 1920s was not up to the task, and borrowers, lenders, and real estate professionals sought action at the federal level.
Well Worth Saving tells the story of the disastrous housing market during the Great Depression and the extent to which an immensely popular New Deal relief program, the Home Ownersandrsquo; Loan Corporation (HOLC), was able to stem foreclosures by buying distressed mortgages from lenders and refinancing them. Drawing on historical records and modern statistical tools, Price Fishback, Jonathan Rose, and Kenneth Snowden investigate important unanswered questions to provide an unparalleled view of the mortgage loan industry throughout the 1920s and early andrsquo;30s. Combining this with the stories of those involved, the book offers a clear understanding of the HOLC within the context of the housing market in which it operated, including an examination of how the incentives and behaviors at play throughout the crisis influenced the effectiveness of policy.
More than eighty years after the start of the Great Depression, when politicians have called for similar programs to quell the current mortgage crisis, this accessible account of the Home Ownersandrsquo; Loan Corporation holds invaluable lessons for our own time.
"Guaranteed to Fail is a down-to-earth analysis of why Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed and why housing finance is broken. The authors provide clear solutions to fixing this complex problem. This is a timely and important book."--Nouriel Roubini, coauthor of Crisis Economics: A Crash Course in the Future of Finance
"Guaranteed to Fail is a comprehensive and well-written study of the role played by Fannie and Freddie in the events leading up to the financial crisis. It also suggests the way forward. This book is timely as well as insightful, and will be an influential contribution to the debate on the role of government-sponsored enterprises."--Raghuram G. Rajan, author of Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy
"This is an excellent book. Guaranteed to Fail presents a cogent proposal for the resolution of the current conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It documents the historical, economic, political, and financial issues that led to the current crisis, and presents all the issues in a fair and informative manner."--Dwight Jaffee, University of California, Berkeley
The financial collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008 led to one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets in history. The bailout has already cost American taxpayers close to $150 billion, and substantially more will be needed. The U.S. economy--and by extension, the global financial system--has a lot riding on Fannie and Freddie. They cannot fail, yet that is precisely what these mortgage giants are guaranteed to do. How can we limit the damage to our economy, and avoid making the same mistakes in the future?
Guaranteed to Fail explains how poorly designed government guarantees for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led to the debacle of mortgage finance in the United States, weighs different reform proposals, and provides sensible, practical recommendations. Despite repeated calls for tougher action, Washington has expanded the scope of its guarantees to Fannie and Freddie, fueling more and more housing and mortgages all across the economy--and putting all of us at risk. This book unravels the dizzyingly immense, highly interconnected businesses of Fannie and Freddie. It proposes a unique model of reform that emphasizes public-private partnership, one that can serve as a blueprint for better organizing and managing government-sponsored enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In doing so, Guaranteed to Fail strikes a cautionary note about excessive government intervention in markets.
About the Author
Viral V. Acharya, Matthew Richardson, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, and Lawrence J. White are professors at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University, and are experts in applied financial economics. Acharya and Richardson are the coeditors of "Restoring Financial Stability" and "Regulating Wall Street". Van Nieuwerburgh is an expert on household finance and mortgage markets. White has studied government-sponsored enterprises for many years and served on the board of Freddie Mac from 1986 to 1989 as part of his government service as a board member on the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: Feeding the Beast 11
CHAPTER TWO: Ticking Time Bomb 31
CHAPTER THREE: Race to the Bottom 41
CHAPTER FOUR: Too Big to Fail 61
CHAPTER FIVE: End of Days 80
CHAPTER SIX: In Bed with the Fed 99
CHAPTER SEVEN: How Others Do It 115
CHAPTER EIGHT: How to Reform a Broken System 132
CHAPTER NINE: Chasing the Dragon 165
Appendix: Timeline of U.S. Housing Finance Milestones 183
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