We agree with David Reiss that credit unions could benefit from increased competition resulting from a privatized mortgage market ("Professor Says CUs Should Back GSEs' Privatization," March 2, page 3) provided, as he states, that "they maintain their access on par with that of larger financial institutions." Otherwise, credit unions could be at a serious disadvantage, particularly as they lack the ability to raise outside capital.
In such an environment, credit unions would need a large, trustworthy partner in the capital markets to efficiently provide the low-cost funding needed for mortgage origination. For many credit unions, the Federal Home Loan Banks have been that partner and could be for many more.
The 12 regionally based FHLBs were the first government sponsored enterprise created by Congress to promote homeownership opportunities for Americans. Our GSE status ensures virtually unlimited access to funding at a cost just above that of the U.S. Treasury. Unlike Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, our cooperative structure aligns the interests of our shareholders with our customers, a concept credit unions know well. We, too, are member-owned and member- focused.
As the debate begins about how to restructure the U.S. housing finance system, the FHLBs stand ready to continue our role as financial intermediaries helping community financial institutions better serve the mortgage needs of their home buying customers.
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago