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Associated Press

The New York Times calls Quicken Loans "the new mortgage machine," citing the firm's rank as the second-largest originator of mortgages, which issues $96 billion per year in new mortgage debt.

But the lender is making less flattering headlines too, like those that reference the Justice Department's allegation that the firm misrepresented customers' credit scores or real estate appraisals in order to qualify for Federal Housing Administration insurance.

Why it matters: The Quicken Loans story is that of the modern housing market. Zealous oversight from Justice and the FHFA have scared big banks from the market, opening the door for small companies to enter and take advantage of government programs like FHA-insured loans.

We're seeing the government become an increasingly entrenched player in the housing market—it owns or insures 3 out of every 5 mortgages in the country—and continues to be a major insurer of new loans. FHA loans have also soared in popularity, to capture more than 30% of new mortgages.

Republicans are between a rock and a hard place: The GOP's ideological instinct is to extricate government from industry where it can, as Donald Trump's recent decision to make FHA loans more expensive shows. But making mortgages more expensive for people will not necessarily be popular. Meanwhile, there have been several government efforts in recent years to lure back private capital into housing finance, and their results have been uneven at best.

Go deeper

24 mins ago - World

Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

Biden says he won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.