state enterprise

Government sponsored enterprise

The government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) are a group of financial services corporations created by the United States Congress. Their function is to enhance the flow of credit to targeted sectors of the economy and to make those segments of the capital market more efficient and transparent. The desired effect of the GSEs is to enhance the availability and reduce the cost of credit to the targeted borrowing sectors: agriculture, home finance and education. Congress created the first GSE in 1916 with the creation of the Farm Credit System; it initiated GSEs in the home finance segment of the economy with the creation of the Federal Home Loan Banks in 1932; and it targeted education when it chartered Sallie Mae in 1972 (although Congress allowed Sallie Mae to relinquish its government sponsorship and become a fully private institution via legislation in 1995). The residential mortgage borrowing segment is by far the largest of the borrowing segments in which the GSEs operate. Together, the three mortgage finance GSEs (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks) have several trillion dollars of on-balance sheet assets.


The GSEs have created a secondary market in these loans through securitization so that the primary market debt issues can be bought and—most importantly—traded by investors. Demand for debt securities drives up their trading price, which lowers their YIELD. Proponents say that this secondary market in consumer loans gives household borrowers cheap fixed rate loans (low fixed rates on long term loans), removes credit risk from banks' balance sheets and provides standardized instruments (securitized securities) for investors.


Some of the GSEs, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were privately owned but publicly chartered; others, such as the Federal Home Loan Banks, are owned by the corporations that use their services. Their lenders grant them favorable interest rates, and the buyers of their securities offer them high prices, as the implicit involvement of the Federal government gives them a sense of financial security.

In fact, GSE securities carry no explicit government guarantee. In 2001 the then-director of the Congressional Budget Office, Dan L. Crippen, testifed before Congress that the "debt and mortgage-backed securities of GSEs are more valuable to investors than similar private securities because of the perception of a government guarantee. . . . This perception has allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to save billions in borrowing costs. Estimates by the Congressional Budget Office and the Treasury Department put the figure at about $2 billion per year .

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