We've all heard stories about second-team players that were thrust into the starting lineup because the usual starters were not healthy enough to play -- or whose past performance did not merit a starting role. The same was true for the Federal Housing Administration in 2011. It became the preferred default setting in the United States mortgage banking system -- again -- by default. Just before Thanksgiving, when U.S. lawmakers moved to increase the maximum size of loans that can be guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, the message sent by Congress was that it would rather rely on an agency it more likely could control than two (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that have not performed up to expectations. Why promote two players whose playing time you wanted to reduce -- or...
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