At a conference held last week to discuss the overhaul of housing finance, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that the Obama administration was not looking to perform “radical surgery” on the system, but was focused instead on creating a “new and improved” version of the current system where the government would subsidize mortgage loans made by private lenders.

The administration convened the conference with dozens of leading experts on housing finance, who were largely of two minds: some want to do away with the current system altogether, with the government taking a more limited role by offering insurance for catastrophic losses only. Others argue that mortgage lending will not recover unless the government plays a more active role, providing the guarantees necessary to attract investors.

Left largely unsaid was the fate of Fannie and Freddie, which now guarantee 90 percent of all new mortgages. While most agree that they are unlikely to survive in their current form, there are so far no suggestions on what to do to get rid of them and their vast portfolios of troubled loans.

For the New York Times coverage of the conference, go here.

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