Mechanics of Finance: Housing Finance

December 17, 2013

Washington, D.C.


Phillip Swagel, Lorraine Woellert and Mark Zandi
Milken Institute-National Press Foundation Mechanics of Finance Breakfast Briefing Series


Mechanics of Finance briefings are conducted for financial journalists to promote deeper understanding of financial markets

Everyone needs a place to live, which is why journalists need to understand the complex economic forces that drive and are driven by a rapidly changing housing market. Government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have historically played a crucial role that now is being transformed. How do legislative proposals differ? What are the implications of change?


Phillip Swagel is a professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. He is a senior fellow at the Milken Institute and also a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Swagel was assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department from December 2006 to January 2009. In that position, he served as a member of the TARP investment committee and advised Secretary Henry Paulson on all aspects of economic policy. Swagel previously worked at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve. He taught economics at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

Lorraine Woellert covers economic policy for Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C. She spent three years on the housing beat reporting on the foreclosure crisis, the Dodd-Frank Act and mortgage policy, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration. Prior to the housing beat, Woellert covered politics, traveling with the Obama, Clinton and McCain presidential campaigns. On Capitol Hill, she broke news on congressional oversight of Wall Street during and after the financial collapse. Woellert joined Bloomberg in 2007 from BusinessWeek, where she covered legal affairs, lobbying and campaign finance.

Mark Zandi is chief economist of Moody's Analytics, where he directs economic research. Moody's Analytics, a subsidiary of Moody's Corp., is a leading provider of economic research, data and analytical tools. Zandi is a co-founder of, which Moody's purchased in 2005. He is on the board of MGIC, the nation's largest private mortgage insurance company, and The Reinvestment Fund, a large CDFI that makes investments in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Zandi is the author of "Paying the Price: Ending the Great Recession and Beginning a New American Century," which assesses the monetary and fiscal policy response to the Great Recession. His other book, "Financial Shock: A 360° Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion, and How to Avoid the Next Financial Crisis," was called the "clearest guide" to the financial crisis by the New York Times. Zandi holds a B.S. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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