Volume 14 - Number 5
March 7, 2014
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Higher guaranty fees and improving housing markets propelled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to banner profits during the fourth quarter of 2013 and for the year as whole. The two GSEs reported a combined 2013 net income of $133 billion, helped by significant nonrecurring items related to deferred tax allowance valuation reversals, private-label residential mortgage-backed security lawsuit settlements, increased representation and warranty settlements, and sizeable decreases in loan-loss reserves.
A federal judge last week granted discovery to attorneys for a hedge fund representing one group of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders as it seeks to challenge the government’s August 2012 “net worth sweep” that effectively confiscates both GSEs’ profits. Fairholme Capital Management, founded by Wall Street veteran Bruce Berkowitz, controls roughly $2.4 billion (face value) of Fannie and Freddie "junior" preferred. Thanks to the September 2008 government takeover of the two firms, the U.S. Treasury controls the senior preferred and is effectively the owner of the two GSEs.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issued $44.6 billion in single-family mortgage-backed securities during the month of February, a 5.1 percent monthly decline and a 62.0 percent drop for the first two months of 2014. February’s decline was less steep than January’s 15.8 percent month-to-month fall off in MBS. Top-ranked Wells Fargo’s Fannie and Freddie securitization at $6.70 billion rose by 25.9 percent on a monthly basis but dropped 71.9 percent year-to-date.
The effort to develop a common mortgage-backed security platform has a budget estimated at up to $300 million, funded by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but the GSEs’ conservator is saying little about its progress. In the nearly six months since the FHFA filed articles of incorporation for the entity creating the common securitization platform, the agency remains silent on key issues related to the project, including the size of its operating budget.
A group of 14 Republican senators led by Louisiana's David Vitter told the Federal Housing Finance Agency that it should stand fast against any notion of lifting the suspension of contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to two housing trust funds. The GOP senators dispatched a letter last week to FHFA Director Mel Watt, countering a plea signed by 33 Democrats in January calling on the new agency director to immediately authorize GSE funding to the National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund.
Yet another defendant in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s massive litigation effort against some of the nation’s largest lenders for bad mortgage-backed securities sales to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has settled. The FHFA announced last week that Societe Generale has agreed to pay $122 million to settle a suit by the Finance Agency regarding non-agency MBS purchased by the two GSEs during 2006.
The advance business for the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks increased throughout 2013 ending the year ahead both on a quarterly and an annual basis, according to preliminary figures released by the Federal Home Loan Bank Office of Finance. Advances increased 7.2 percent to $498.6 billion during the fourth quarter of 2013 while posting an even larger 17.1 percent increase from $425.8 billion a year earlier. The Office of Finance attributed the increase in advances due to “higher member borrowing, particularly by large-asset members.”
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks will now be required to report directly any suspected fraud to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network under the terms of a final rule. Published in the Feb. 25 Federal Register, the final rule adopts “without significant change” FinCEN’s November 2011 proposal to require the GSEs to file suspicious activity reports directly with FinCEN rather than through their own regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Despite gains in oversight and reform of the compensation packages for Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's top-level executives, the Federal Housing Finance Agency did not keep a close eye on the pay packages for scores of GSE vice presidents and directors, according to the FHFA’s official watchdog. In a heavily redacted draft memo released to the public, the FHFA’s Office of Inspector General said that while the agency reviewed and examined the GSEs' executive compensation, it did not keep close tabs on “non-executive senior professional compensation practices.”
First Horizon National Corp. announced last week it entered into a “definitive resolution agreement” with Freddie Mac regarding loan repurchase issues. The agreement settles all representation and warranty claims related to loans sold by First Horizon to Freddie Mac from 2000 to 2008. First Horizon CEO Bryan Jordan said in a statement the agreement with the GSE is “a big step forward” in the company’s ongoing efforts to unwind from the mortgage business the firm sold in 2008.
Fannie, Freddie Slashed CMBS Holdings in 2013. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continued to sell off their holdings of non-agency commercial mortgage-backed securities as the preferred strategy for meeting their regulator's demand that the two GSEs accelerate the reduction in their retained mortgage portfolios. The two GSEs reduced their CMBS holdings by 51.4 percent over the course of 2013, according to an analysis of year-end financial statements.
- GSE Seller Profile: 4Q13
- Top Mortgage Players: 3Q13
- GSE Repurchase Activity First Half 2013
- Mortgage Profitability Report: 3Q13
- GSE Market Profile: FY12
- GSE Private Mortgage Insurance Profile
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