A new GSE regulator could establish annual limits on the size and growth of Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's giant portfolios through a rulemaking process, according to James Lockhart, director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.The OFHEO director told the National Economists Club that the $700 billion mortgage portfolios are too large and should be reduced gradually to a level the regulator determines is appropriate after weighing safety-and-soundness and systemic risk concerns. "If done properly, the reduction of the portfolios would be through a transparent rulemaking process," he said. And after a gradual reduction, the government-sponsored enterprises could "grow with the market," he added. The process Mr. Lockhart outlined reflects a proposal floated by Treasury Department officials to break a deadlock in the Senate over the issue of portfolio limits. No agreement on a GSE regulatory reform bill has been reached yet. "I believe the two sides are not very far apart at all," the OFHEO director said.

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