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Tuesday, June 15, 2010 4:04 AM


Fannie, Freddie "Mother of all Bailouts" may cost Taxpayers $1 Trillion


The estimated taxpayer costs of the GSE bailouts grows by the day and has now hit as much as $1 trillion.

Please consider Fannie-Freddie Fix at $160 Billion With $1 Trillion Worst Case.

The cost of fixing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies that last year bought or guaranteed three-quarters of all U.S. home loans, will be at least $160 billion and could grow to as much as $1 trillion after the biggest bailout in American history.

“It is the mother of all bailouts,” said Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer at Fannie Mae, who is now a consultant to the mortgage-finance industry.

The Congressional Budget Office calculated in August 2009 that the companies would need $389 billion in federal subsidies through 2019, based on assumptions about delinquency rates of loans in their securities pools. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget estimated in February that aid could total as little as $160 billion if the economy strengthens.

If housing prices drop further, the companies may need more. Barclays Capital Inc. analysts put the price tag as high as $500 billion in a December report on mortgage-backed securities, assuming home prices decline another 20 percent and default rates triple.

Sean Egan, president of Egan-Jones Ratings Co. in Haverford, Pennsylvania, said that a 20 percent loss on the companies’ loans and guarantees, along the lines of other large market players such as Countrywide Financial Corp., now owned by Bank of America Corp., could cause even more damage.

“One trillion dollars is a reasonable worst-case scenario for the companies,” said Egan, whose firm warned customers away from municipal bond insurers in 2002 and downgraded Enron Corp. a month before its 2001 collapse.

Foreign governments, including China’s and Japan’s, hold $908 billion of [Fannie and Freddie] bonds, according to Fed data.

“Do we really want to go to the central bank of China and say, ‘Tough luck, boys’?

The terms of the 2008 Treasury bailout create further complications. Fannie and Freddie are required to pay a 10 percent annual dividend on the shares owned by taxpayers. So far, they owe $14.5 billion, more than the companies reported in income in their most profitable years.

“It’s like a debt trap,” said Qumber Hassan, a mortgage strategist at Credit Suisse Group AG in New York. “The more they draw, the more they have to pay.”

Allowing the companies to go under and hoping that private financing will fill the gap isn’t realistic, analysts say. It would require at least two years of rising property values for private companies to return to the mortgage-securitization market, said Robert Van Order, Freddie’s former chief international economist and a professor of finance at George Washington University in Washington.

The price tag of supporting Fannie and Freddie “needs to be evaluated against the cost of not having a mortgage market,” said Phyllis Caldwell, chief of the Treasury’s Homeownership Preservation Office.

Whatever the fix, the money spent will not be recovered, said Alex Pollock, a former president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago who is now a fellow at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute.
That was a good report and credit goes to Bloomberg reporters Lorraine Woellert and John Gittelsohn. There is much more in the article. Inquiring minds will give it a closer look.

Bernanke's Exit Problem Grows by the Day

The amazing thing to me is the credit given to Bernanke for doing nothing but kicking the can down the road. We had an easy chance to do the right thing which was to make the Fannie and Freddie bondholders share in the pain.

Instead, Bernanke, Congress, and the Treasury collectively forced broke taxpayers to bail out wealthy bondholders. Now Bernanke is scrambling for an exit and praying for a miracle, but no exit or miracle will be found.

How the hell can Fannie and Freddie pay a 10 percent annual dividend on the shares owned by taxpayers when they are losing billions of dollars a year? Secondly, can the Fed unload the $trillion in Fannie and Freddie debt on its balance sheet without disrupting the market?

What can't happen, won't happen.

Meanwhile, Congress, the Fed, and the Obama administration all foolishly wants to "support" housing although we have more houses sitting vacant than anyone knows what to do with. To top it off, FHA Volume is Sign of ‘Very Sick System’; Fannie, Freddie, FHA Account for 90% of Mortgage Market

Without government guarantees, there would be no mortgage market. With government guarantees taxpayer losses mount by the minute. ... And supposedly Bernanke is a genius for this setup.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com
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