After currency basket for rouble, Russia may price oil in euros

Section:

Fannie, Freddie regulator
seeks power to close companies;
legislation begins moving in Congress

By Robert Schroeder
CBSMarketWatch.com
Thursday, February 3, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The federal office that regulates Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac is seeking authority to close the giant mortgage finance
companies in the event of a financial crisis, as legislation
toughening rules on the firms begins to make its way through
Congress.

"Receivership is a valuable thing," Patrick Lawler, chief economist
of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, told a forum
about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Thursday.

Receivership refers to the ability of a regulator to settle the
affairs of a business or to manage a corporation during
reorganization.

Lawmakers and the Bush administration have their sights set on both
Fannie and Freddie as the legislative year begins. Both companies,
which pump millions of dollars into the mortgage market, have
weathered accounting scandals recently, with two of Fannie's top
executives resigning over a massive earnings restatement.

The company may have to record a loss of $9 billion and it is still
being investigated by the Justice Department and the Securities and
Exchange Commission.

Meanwhile, legislation is beginning to move through Congress.
Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Elizabeth Dole of North
Carolina, and John Sununu of New Hampshire have co-authored a bill
that would create a receiver for Fannie and Freddie, as well as allow
for higher levels of capital at both institutions.

The senators are members of the Senate Banking Committee, which has
scheduled a hearing about Fannie and Freddie for Feb. 10. Assistant
Secretary of Housing John Weicher is scheduled to testify. The Office
of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight is part of the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Separately, chief Securities and Exchange Commission accountant
Donald Nicolaisen will testify before a House Financial Services
subcommittee about his determination in December that Fannie Mae
broke accounting rules.

Meanwhile, a coalition of 37 federal, state, and local groups urged
the federal government and Congress to cut ties with Fannie and
Freddie Thursday. Warning that Americans are threatened by a
potential taxpayer bailout of the two companies, the groups
recommended privatizing both.

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