James R. Hagerty

The Fateful History of Fannie Mae

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“A lucid and meticulously reported book by one of the Wall Street Journal’s ace reporters” (George Anders, Forbes contributor and author of The Rare Find).
In 1938, the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt created a small agency called Fannie Mae. Intended to make home loans more accessible, the agency was born of the Great Depression and a government desperate to revive housing construction. It was a minor detail of the New Deal, barely recorded by the newspapers of the day.
Over the next seventy years, Fannie Mae evolved into one of the largest financial companies in the world, owned by private shareholders but with its nearly $1 trillion of debt effectively guaranteed by the government. Almost from the beginning, critics repeatedly warned that Fannie was an accident waiting to happen. Then, in 2008, the housing market collapsed.
Amid a wave of foreclosures, the company’s capital began to run out, and the US Treasury seized control. From the New Deal to President Obama’s administration, James R. Hagerty explains this fascinating but little-understood saga. Based on the author’s reporting for the Wall Street Journal, personal research, and interviews with executives, regulators, and congressional leaders, The Fateful History of Fannie Mae, he explains the politics, economics, and human frailties behind seven decades of missed opportunities to prevent a financial disaster.
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