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Regulators lift Fannie, Freddie portfolio caps

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As promised, federal regulators said today they will lift caps limiting growth in the loan portfolios of government-chartered mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but mounting losses at both companies could still constrain their growth. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) said that as of March 1, Fannie and Freddie will no longer be subject to the portfolio caps, instituted in the wake of management and accounting scandals that forced both companies to restate several years of earnings. The caps -- which limited the total value of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities the companies could buy and hold for investment to about $1.5 trillion -- are being lifted in recognition that both companies are filing audited financial statements for 2007 in a timely fashion, and have made progress in implementing new practices and controls, OFHEO said. For the time being, Fannie and Freddie will still be subject to 2004 consent orders, which require the compani...