Like bank executives, Fannie Mae chief didn't see mortgage crisis coming

Former Fannie Mae executive Robert Levin on Friday told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that if he had seen the mortgage meltdown coming he would have acted differently. 

"In hindsight, if we were able to anticipate the nature and extent of the crisis that engulfed the market it is clear that we all would have conducted our businesses differently," he told the panel. 

One of his regrets was the decision for Fannie Mae to back exotic mortgages, like Alt. A loans. 

"With the benefit of hindsight, we would have been far less likely to expand," into those products, he said. 

Because of a historically high level of mortgage defaults, especially in the exotic market, Fannie Mae was set to lose tens of billions of dollars before it was placed in conservatorship and run by the Federal Housing Agency in Sept. 2008. 

Levin's surprise by the sudden turn in the mortgage market echoes comments by former Citigroup executives Robert Rubin and George Prince, who on Thursday testified before the commission saying they too did not see the meltdown coming.