|The Federal Reserve will buy up to $0.5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities issued by the government sponsored housing enterprises.
An announcement Tuesday said the fed would purchase debt and mortgage-backed securities of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.
The fed's primary dealers will conduct a series of competitive auctions next week.
"Spreads of rates on GSE debt and on GSE-guaranteed mortgages have widened appreciably of late," the statement said. "This action is being taken to reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for the purchase of houses, which in turn should support housing markets and foster improved conditions in financial markets more generally."
The fed will purchase up to $100 billion in direct obligations and up to $500 billion in MBS.
The purchase process is expected to occur over several quarters.
The National Association of Home Builders issued a statement calling on the Treasury to resolve investor uncertainty by explicitly guaranteeing GSE debt as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation does for bank debt. Such a move, according to the builders, would "bolster investor demand for GSE securities and thereby reduce mortgage rates."