September 2, 2011
-I am an investor in Mortgage-based REITs (AGNC, NLY, ARR), so my opinion on the subject is somewhat biased towards preserving the REIT status of these companies.
I feel that the Commission will not make things better by revoking the REIT status of these companies. Whereas it might provide a small benefit to the Gov in terms of increased taxes, in the long run investors will abandon such companies due to decreased benefit of owning such stock and increased tax revenue will disappear rather quickly.
As a result, the people working for these companies will lose their jobs. A second result is there will be less demand to own GSE-backed paper, which will have a damaging effect on the housing sector.
Investors in general will be very upset (including yours truly) at the Government for changing the rules of the game after we have invested our money. We are aware that REITs will generally not grow their income, so the only reason we invest in them is for the high dividend yield.
And it will increase the number of people upset with Government's interference in the economy.
A 3rd side-effect from such a change will be on the economy in general. As we, investors lose money as a result of these regulations, I will compensate by cutting my budget and not spending any money to recover my losses. I will not spend any money because I would feel "I lost a lot of money in the stock market", so I would not buy anything and suspend any planned purchases until this issue is resolved.
So, by changing the rules, the SEC will not "protect investors", but rather, greatly harm them because they bought a stock with certain assumptions and the SEC "protects" them by taking action that caused their investments to be rather pointless.
At the very least, if you must go ahead and ruin our investments, please provide a phase-in period of 2-3 years so we can recover our losses and get a chance to sell our stock gradually.
I was already nervous about the economy. This change would really depress me.