Fannie Mae in June made commitments to buy $17.6 billion in mortgage-backed securities for its investment portfolio, up from $10.6 billion in May. Fannie Mae's total commitments to buy mortgages and MBS for its portfolio was $19.5 billion, up from $12.5 billion in May. Commitments to purchases of government product jumped sharply to $6 billion in June from $3 billion the month before. Commitments have hovered just above $1 billion from February to April and were just $530 million in January.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has joined Freddie Mac as a consultant, according to a Freddie Mac spokesman. While former congressmen cannot lobby Congress until they have been out of it for year, they can advise on political issues, and a source close to the situation said Gringrich would be a political advisor. However, one surprised source said Gringrich may antagonize many in the political arena. When Gringrich was speaker, Freddie Mac was a heavy contributor of soft money to Republican coffers.

The Mortgage Bankers Association announced last week in London that it has earmarked $1 million in start-up money for an International Institute for Real Estate Finance. Donald Lange, the MBA's president, said the new institute "will provide a non-partisan framework to promote the stable flow of capital for real estate finance throughout the world." One goal is bring together practitioners from all regions of the globe. He said the institute will develop "an international palette of education about market-models from around the world." The scope includes both residential and commercial markets, both primary and secondary markets, he said. The institute is expected to look at such issues as the production of investment-quality mortgages, Lange said.

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