Alex J. Pollock is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on policy issues relating to mortgage finance, banking, the Federal Reserve, government-sponsored enterprises, retirement finance, corporate governance, and the role of uncertainty and risk in financial systems.
Immediately before joining AEI, Pollock was president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago from 1991 to 2004. A prolific writer and speaker, he has also testified before Congress on numerous financial issues. He is the author of “Boom and Bust: Financial Cycles and Human Prosperity” (AEI Press, 2011) and, in 2007, created a one-page mortgage information form to help borrowers understand their mortgage obligations.
Pollock is a director of the CME Group, the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, and the Great Books Foundation (where he was chairman of the board from 2006 to 2014). He is a past-president of the International Union for Housing Finance and a member of the advisory board of the Graham School of Management at Saint Xavier University.
He has an M.P.A. in international relations from Princeton University, an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. from Williams College.
• President and CEO, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, 1991–2004
• Visiting Scholar, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 1991
• President and CEO, Community Federal Savings, St. Louis, 1988–90
• Positions of increasing responsibility in banking, 1969–88
M.P.A., international relations, Princeton University
Eighty-four years after Keynes ironically wished that economists could be "humble, competent people, on a level with dentists", the irony has changed directions; modern dentistry is based on real science, and has made huge advances in scientific knowledge, applied technology and practice. It is obviously far ahead of economics in these respects.
The release of data on mortgage originations collected under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act has given rise to a number of articles that cite "racial disparities" in loan denial and approval rates. But do these numbers represent differences arising from the application of consistent credit standards to various groups, or are they disparities that arise from inconsistent credit standards?
Reflecting on the century since the first International Union for Housing Finance (IUHF) meeting in 1914, we are of course struck by how much things change and keep changing. In this context, we should consider the definition of “a period of transition,” from the economist, Jacob Viner. It is this:...
The IUHF’s purpose is to provide knowledge, information and understanding about housing finance systems in varying economic, financial, and political contexts, and to compare each of our own narrow institutional assumptions to a broader international perspective, so that we may mutually learn from multiple experiences, experiments, problems, disasters, successes, and innovations.
Housing finance in the United States over the last one hundred years can be divided into three eras: The age of savings and loan institutions (1914-1980), the age of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (1980-2008), and the As-Yet Undefined Age (2008-future).
As shown by these recent quotes from The Wall Street Journal, we are getting used to the idea that interest rates can be negative. So why did so many economists assert confidently for years that nominal interest rates could not go below zero– that there was a “zero bound,” as they said?
Perhaps the Fed’s hyper-expanded balance sheet gamble and credit allocation will be judged by future historians as a success. This is a matter of uncertainty. I’d guess the chances are less than 50 percent. On the other side, after the asset inflations end, I’d guess is that there is a greater than 50 percent chance that the historians of the future will give the post-crisis Fed a Bronx cheer.