The Federal National Mortgage Association is a government-sponsored enterprise charged by Congress since 1938 to support liquidity and stability in the secondary mortgage market, where mortgage-related assets, including securities, are traded. The main way that Fannie Mae has provided this support has been through securitizing mortgage loans originated by lenders in the primary mortgage market; the agency than backs these securities.
The practice, successful for decades, was blamed for a good portion of the 2008 recession and housing collapse. Too many mortgage securities backed by Fannie Mae collapsed or did poorly, costing the agency billions; these costs were passed on to taxpayers, further hurting Fannie Maes reputation with the public (as did allegations of executive misconduct).
Still, the agency, backed as it is by the U.S. government, does amazing trade: $22.9 billion in revenue in 2012, with assets of more than $3.2 trillion. Tim Mayopoulos has been the CEO of Washington-based Fannie Mae since June 2012. -TA
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