Em Outubro de 2001, um working paper editado pelo Mercatus da GMU (“NEITHER FISH NOR FOWL: An Overview of the Big-Three Government-Sponsored Enterprises in the U.S. Housing Finance Markets” de Jay Cochran, III e Catherine England) alertava para os elevados níveis endividamento do Fannie Mae e Freddie Mac e que a expectativa que, em caso de falência, o administração americana viria em seu auxílio criava perigosos incentivos para os seus gestores assumirem riscos cada vez maiores.
[C]ritics point with alarm to the rapid growth of these government sponsored enterprises, both in terms of their total assets and in terms of their outstanding debt. To put their expansion into perspective, from 1995 to 2000, growth of the U.S. mortgage market averaged just 8.2 percent per year. Meanwhile, growth of the GSEs was at least double, if not triple, that amount.
From 1995 to 2000, Fannie Mae’s outstanding debt more than doubled while Freddie Mac’s debt grew by more than 3.5 times. The less controversial Federal Home Loan Bank System expanded its outstanding debt by 2.4 times between 1995 and 2000. Taken together, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System accounted for 90 percent of the total federal agency and federally sponsored agency debt outstanding at the end of 2000.
As government sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Bank System enjoy a special, if sometimes ambiguous, relationship with the federal government because of their congressional charters. Many observers believe, rightly or wrongly, that if one of the GSEs encountered financial difficulties, the federal government would assume responsibility for repaying the debt of the enterprise. This attitude among investors may free the GSEs to take more risks than they would if subject to more robust competition and more intense market-based discipline. The swelling debt of the housing GSEs has thus raised concerns among several observers, both within and outside the government.