In 1999, under pressure from the Clinton administration, Fannie Mae, the nation's largest home mortgage underwriter, relaxed credit requirements on the loans it would purchase from other banks and lenders, hoping that easing these restrictions would result in increased loan availability for minority and low-income buyers. Putting pressure on the GSE's (Government Sponsored Enterprise) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Clinton administration looked to increase their sub-prime portfolios, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development expressing its interest in the GSE's maintaining a 50% portion of their portfolios in loans to low and moderate-income borrowers.
CHILLING WORDS FROM TEN YEARS AGO:
In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's.
''From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,'' said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ''If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''
The New York Times; September 30, 1999