Tough words from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. In prepared remarks on Tuesday, August 17, Geithner accused Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac of reckless strategies enacted to “maximize short-term returns to shareholders and senior management.” A “toxic combination” of perceived governmental guarantees and lack of oversight made these strategies possible, and while they didn’t cause the financial crisis on their own, Geithner admitted, they made it worse.
The Geithner’s remakes were made at the Conference on the Future of Housing Finance in Washington.
There is no “clear consensus” on how to design a new system, Geithner said, but he declared the Administration would side with whoever argued for reform.
“We will not support returning Fannie and Freddie to the role they played before conservatorship, where they fought to take market share from private competitors while enjoying the privilege of government support. We will not support a return to the system where private gains are subsidized by taxpayer losses.”
Geithner asked whether it was the responsibility of the government or private markets to provide insurance against losses. Without support, he said, the financial system would be unable to support mortgage lending in future recessions.