Fannie Mae Chief Economist David W. Berson's decades-long relationship with the mortgage finance giant is coming to a close. On Friday, the PMI Group announced that Berson has been hired as the company's chief economist and strategist effective Oct. 29. In addition, Berson will serve as a company spokesperson on topics related to global economic housing, mortgage market conditions, prospects, and policy.

The PMI Group, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based company, specializes in providing residential mortgage insurance to mortgage lenders, capital market participants, and investors throughout the U.S.

"PMI is committed to being a global leader in risk management and hiring an exceptionally talented officer like David Berson is an important part of fulfilling that commitment," said PMI's CEO Steve Smith in a press statement. "We are very excited to have David join PMI. His deep knowledge of the housing and mortgage finance markets will make him a major asset to PMI."

Jason Lobo, senior media relations manager at Fannie Mae, confirmed Berson's departure but declined to comment further. He added that there have been no announcements concerning who will replace Berson.

Berson's departure may be the first of many before the end of 2007 for Fannie Mae. In June, the company released a statement that said a buyout was being offered to "employees who meet certain age and tenure criteria the opportunity to volunteer to retire early." The company anticipates trimming payroll by as many as 500 full-time employees, which will contribute to an estimated $200 million in savings this year.

Berson was unavailable for comment on Friday but said in a press statement that he is "looking forward to contributing to PMI's role in expanding homeownership opportunities and strengthening communities around the world."

Berson, who started at Fannie Mae as a senior economist in 1987, has served as chief economist since 1989. At Fannie Mae, Berson was responsible for advising the company on national and regional economic, housing, and mortgage policy and conditions, including forecasts and analyses of the economy, interest rates, and housing and mortgage finance markets.