Dear Secretary Mnuchin:
The Treasury Department has just issued a new review of “Financial Stability Oversight Designations,” and we are writing to you in your capacity as Chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) that is responsible for implementing financial stability oversight designations. In the context of FSOC’s responsibility to address systemic financial risk, we would like to address a major omission in its past work, and make three fundamental points:
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two of the largest and most highly leveraged financial institutions in the world. Fannie Mae is larger than JPMorgan or Bank of America; Freddie Mac is larger than Wells Fargo or Citigroup. They fund trillions of dollars of mortgages and sell trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities and debt throughout the financial system and around the world. The U.S. and the global economy have already experienced the reality of the systemic risk of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When their flawed fundamental structure, compounded by mismanagement, caused them both to fail in September 2008, there can be no doubt that without a bailout, default on their obligations would have greatly exacerbated the financial crisis on a global basis.
- We respectfully urge that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be designated as Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFIs) so that the protective capital and regulatory standards applicable to SIFIs under the law can also be applied to them. These two giant mortgage credit institutions clearly meet all of the criteria specified by the Dodd-Frank Act and implementing regulations for designation as a SIFI. They also meet the international criteria of the Financial Stability Board for designation as a Global SIFI (G-SIFI).
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to operate in “conservatorship” and now have an even greater market share than before, based on an effective guarantee of all their obligations and mortgage-backed securities by the U.S. Treasury. Conservatorship status obligates the federal government, absent a change in the law, to return them to shareholder control after they have been stabilized financially. The Congress has, with much accompanying debate but no action so far, considered a variety of legislative reform measures with respect to the two companies. Whether or not Congress changes the law, we believe it is essential for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be designated as SIFIs.