Still, though, Bernanke does not want to dismantle what he seesas the GSEs' key mission of providing backstop support for mortgagelending. Whatever form these two agencies takepost-conservatorship, he said in his comments, they should remaininvolved in the securitization of mortgages. "We must strive todesign a housing financing system that ensures the successfulfunding and securitization of mortgages during times of financialstress but does not create institutions that pose systemic risks toour financial markets and the economy," he said.

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Bernanke's remarks are part of a larger policy discussionquietly underway about the role the GSEs will play in the mortgagemarkets once the economy and financial system stabilizes. "Thescenario testing will start for the agencies, if it hasn'talready," David Cardwell, vice president of capital markets andtechnology with the National Multifamily Housing Council, tellsGlobeSt.com. NMHC, for instance, is seeking comment from not onlylenders that work with the GSEs--something it has always done-–butalso now with the borrowing community. "We are beginning thatdialogue right now in order to put some framework around theseissues."

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Meanwhile, though, it is business as usual for GSE lendingoperations, Cardwell adds. The association has been monitoringlenders that work with the GSEs, he says, "and they all report thatthe agencies are still as active as they were before they went intoconservatorship."

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