What Are the Federal Home Loan Banks Up To? Emerging Views of Purpose among Institutional Leadership

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Abstract

The Federal Home Loan Bank System has come under sharp criticism in recent years, and the question has been raised as to whether it still has a public purpose. In this article, we ask what leaders in the Federal Home Loan Banks view their institutions' purpose to be in light of legislative changes to their mandates in 1989 and 1999. Based on interviews with FHLB executive managers and board members, we identify three clearly distinguishable views of these institutions' mission: housing finance, support for the viability of community financial institutions, and support for and community development. We go on to identify some of the implications of these distinctive views for the behavior of the FHLBs and for their governance structures.

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