This program features the inaugural publication of Columbia Global Reports, Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants.
Lee C. Bollinger
President, Columbia University in the City of New York
Journalism Professor and Dean Emeritus;
Director, Columbia Global Reports
Founder and Chief Executive Officer,
Pershing Square Capital Management LP
Author, Shaky Ground;
Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
Federal National Mortgage Association
In 2008, the U.S. Treasury put Fannie and Freddie into a life-support state known as “conservatorship” to prevent their failure — and worldwide economic chaos. The two companies, which were always controversial, have become a battleground. Today, Fannie and Freddie are profitable again but still in conservatorship. Their profits are being redirected toward reducing the federal deficit, which leaves them with no buffer should they suffer losses again. China and Japan are big owners of Fannie and Freddie securities, and they want to ensure the safety of their investments — which helps explain why the government is at an impasse about what to do. But the current state of limbo is unsustainable. Based on comprehensive reporting and dozens of interviews, Shaky Ground chronicles the story of Fannie and Freddie seven years after the meltdown and tells us why homeownership finance is now one of the biggest unresolved issues in today’s global economy.