Faced with a lose-lose proposition, Congress put off its decision on the fate of mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, perhaps hoping the housing market recovers before losses get too big.
The financial regulatory overhaul, approved by Congress on Thursday, steered clear of reorganizing the government sponsored enterprises -- companies at the center of a U.S. housing crisis that drove the world into recession.
Both political parties agree a hybrid system that lets shareholders profit in the good times while taxpayers pay in the bad is unsustainable. But neither has come up with a workable plan to do that without inflicting more harm on the still-suffering housing market and the broader economy.
Given the bruising fight that took place over new rules for Wall Street in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, wholesale changes to the U.S. housing finance system could be too much for Congress to handle.
Edward Pinto, a former top official at Fannie Mae who now works as a consultant to private sector mortgage lenders, notes that each passing day makes it harder to change the system.
"The longer this goes on the less likely they are going to be able to undo Fannie and Freddie and we are going to get stuck with them in some sort of zombie-like structure," Pinto said.
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