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WASHINGTON, DC-Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s pre-conservatorship structure–when the two were essentially government-supported agencies whose first loyalties were to its private shareholders–did not work out, Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged in remarks made via video conference on Friday to a forum at the University of California at Berkeley. When their loans came under stress, as we all know now, the agencies suffered severe losses that reverberated throughout financial system.

Still, though, Bernanke does not want to dismantle what he sees as the GSEs’ key mission of providing backstop support for mortgage lending. Whatever form these two agencies take post-conservatorship, he said in his comments, they should remain involved in the securitization of mortgages. “We must strive to design a housing financing system that ensures the successful funding and securitization of mortgages during times of financial stress but does not create institutions that pose systemic risks to our financial markets and the economy,” he said.

Bernanke’s remarks are part of a larger policy discussion quietly underway about the role the GSEs will play in the mortgage markets once the economy and financial system stabilizes. “The scenario testing will start for the agencies, if it hasn’t already,” David Cardwell, vice president of capital markets and technology with the National Multifamily Housing Council, tells GlobeSt.com. NMHC, for instance, is seeking comment from not only lenders that work with the GSEs–something it has always done-–but also now with the borrowing community. “We are beginning that dialogue right now in order to put some framework around these issues.”

Meanwhile, though, it is business as usual for GSE lending operations, Cardwell adds. The association has been monitoring lenders that work with the GSEs, he says, “and they all report that the agencies are still as active as they were before they went into conservatorship.”

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