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Housing Rules May Curb Bernanke Efforts to Bolster Economy

Increasing housing regulation may blunt the impact of Federal Reserve efforts to bolster the economy with low mortgage rates, said David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Regulators are introducing conflicting policies that create more risks and costs for lenders, Stevens said today at the organization’s annual conference in Chicago. He called for the next president to create a role for a housing policy coordinator to help avert contradictory policies.

“The reality is regulators don’t seem to talk to each other and that’s a problem,” Stevens said during a panel at the Hyatt Regency.

The Federal Housing Finance Administration has been pushing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to standardize their operations to reduce taxpayers’ costs and make it easier for sellers, servicers and investors to work with the two companies. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, meanwhile, is crafting so-called qualified mortgage regulations as part of a broader overhaul of housing-finance oversight.

Stevens, former Federal Housing Administration head and ex-Freddie Mac executive, said the mortgage industry is fully dependent on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the companies should be more transparent.

“They can implement policy as though they were still fully private companies,” he said. “They can literally rock our world overnight with a policy change. This is unacceptable.”

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