What is the FHFA?

The Federal Housing Finance Association is the Conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since the 2008 meltdown.

The FHFA was established as an independent government entity to oversee the secondary mortgage market. The FHFA is a regulatory agency which took over for the Federal Housing Finance Board and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO).

It was created in 2008 by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA), and it oversees the operations of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and the 11 federal home loan (FHL) banks. If you’ll recall, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide liquidity to banks and transfer risk from them by buying their mortgage cash flows from them.

They then pool and tranche the mortgages in to securitized form (such as collateralized mortgage obligations, or CMOs // See: CDOs) for sale to investors. This was a large part of the problem that erupted in the crash of 2008, as bad debts were improperly rated and were separated by several degrees from their sources, so that investors, including institutional investors, didn’t always know what they were getting.

The FHFA regulates the secondary mortgage market and keeps Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac solvent and under close supervision.

What is Ginnie Mae?
What is Freddie Mac?