The Fateful History of Fannie Mae

I love my work as a foreclosure defense attorney for two main reasons.  First, I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping hard-working families keep their homes.  It’s not always a success story, but when a family avoids losing their house to the bank, it’s a really good feeling.  The other reason I enjoy this area of law is that I find it intellectually fascinating.  Just a few short years ago, our country–our world–was on the bring of falling into the economic abyss.  It never ceases to amaze me at how a house in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Frisco, or a condo in Miami or Orange County could destroy our financial system.  Yes, I know how it happened, which is why I find this area of law so interesting.

In my opinion, any attorney who is working in foreclosure defense and is worth their salt should be at least an amateur historian in recent economic history.  At the heart of the housing bubble–and eventually the housing collapse–was Fannie Mae.  Fannie Mae is what’s known as a government sponsored entity, or GSE.  It’s an odd combination of a government entity and private corporation.  And it makes for a very interesting study.

If you’re interested in learning about the history of Fannie Mae, I would strongly recommend the book The Fateful History of Fannie Mae:  New Deal Birth to Mortgage Crisis Fall by author James R. Hagerty.  If you don’t want to commit to reading 224 pages on the subject, I would recommend the “Cliff Notes” version here, which is the video of a very interesting forum with the author and other leading experts on the history of Fannie Mae.  The video of the forum (which was put on by the American Enterprise Institute) appeared on C-SPAN’s Book Review and is 75 minutes well spent.

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