With the release of Peter Wallison’s new book, Hidden in Plain Sight, I suspect the debates over the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the financial crisis may heat up again (I suspect Joe Nocera is working up a nasty review). Anyone interested in the financial crisis should read this book. It is extensively documented and well-written. While the narrative is similar to other of Wallison’s writings, he musters far more evidence for his case here. The amount of contemporaneous material from advocates, HUD and the GSEs (Fannie and Freddie) is impressive.
I’ve generally been on the fence about the housing goals, as I have felt that GSE leverage was a far greater issue. The book leaves me more sympathetic to Wallison’s argument. For the best counter-argument regarding the goals, see John Weicher’s paper on the issue (unlike Nocera, Weicher includes facts and analysis).