Speaking in Washington on June 26 before the Making Homes Affordable Five Year Anniversary Summit, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob Lew, gave a speech in which he addressed the need for housing finance reform. He also noted almost a complete absence of a private label securities market almost six years after the crisis and a need to restore private funding to the residential mortgage market. He noted that a series of questions was posted to the Treasury website seeking comment by August 8, 2014 on recommendations for reviving the private label securities market.
Neither Secretary Lew’s speech nor the posted questions mention covered bonds. Clearly covered bond legislation for the United States should be considered by the Treasury. The legislation introduced in 2011 by Representative Garrett, H.R. 940, passed the House Financial Services Committee by a very strong bi-partisan vote of 44-7. Passage of covered bond legislation should be easily achievable with Treasury backing and covered bonds could provide an important channel of private funding for the mortgage market. After all, covered bonds provide funding for about €3 trillion in the European market and the domestic U.S. market for covered bonds issued by foreign has shown healthy growth.