This article was written in response to “How Ralph Nader learned to love Fannie and Freddie” (February 18) by Bethany McLean.
Bethany McLean’s article deserves a number of clarifying responses.
McLean injects an air of complexity and confusion with regard to my positions on a number of separate issues in what seems to be an attempt to imply a more interesting narrative for her article than exists in reality. Some clarifications are in order:
In the 1990s and early 2000s I opposed corruption in the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). I was clear about my admonition of the government subsidies they received in the form of an implicit government guarantee without meeting their obligations to advance affordable housing. I was clear that their drive for profits could tempt them deeper into murky legal waters. My opposition to their management compensation packages and questionable accounting practices were made plain.
Now I am advocating for the GSEs’ shareholders’ rights. This is an issue separate from the previous transgressions and corruption.
In its conservatorship of the GSEs, the federal government has used and abused GSE shareholders. It has unfairly treated the GSEs differently than other bailed-out corporations that were equally — or more — at fault for the financial crisis.