US president urges Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac 'wind down'

8 August 2013

US president Barack Obama has called for a revamp of the entire housing market that would result in a "wind down" of the government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mr Obama said this action was needed to make sure the currently rebounding US property market does not turn into a "housing bubble".

He wants to see the two lenders replaced with a system leaving the onus of loan risk primarily on the private sector, meaning the taxpayer will not be burdened.

The US rescued both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the financial crisis and it cost taxpayers $187 billion as they edged towards bankruptcy, which would have had devastating effects on the economy.

Both institutions have now returned to profitability and have repaid some of the $132 billion owed to the state.

"For too long these companies were allowed to make huge profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets went bad, taxpayers would be left holding the bag," Mr Obama said.

By Asim Shah

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