Browse articles from all of our Newsletters related to Treasury.

February 24, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Appeals Court Ruling Voids Treasury Sweep Claims

Despite a Feb. 21 ruling barring GSE shareholders from making illegal Treasury sweep claims, plaintiffs and speculators are keeping hope alive. In Perry Capital LLC vs. Treasury, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia put a stop to shareholders who have been arguing that the government is illegally confiscating GSE profits, citing language in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The Appeals Court notes: “We hold that the stockholders’ statutory claims are barred by the Recovery Act’s strict limitation on judicial review … We also reject most of the stockholders’ common-law claims. Insofar as we have subject matter jurisdiction over the stockholders’ common-law claims against...

February 24, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Appeals Court Bars GSE Shareholders from Making Illegal Treasury Sweep Claims, but ‘Breach of Contract’ Possible

In a long-awaited decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled this week against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders who have been contesting the Treasury Department’s net worth sweep of the government-sponsored enterprises’ earnings. On Feb. 21, Judge Royce Lamberth ruled shareholders in Perry Capital LLC vs. Treasury, et al, are barred by the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act from making their claims. Perry sued...

February 24, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Mortgage REIT Holdings of Residential MBS Fall Slightly in 4Q16, Preliminary Estimates Show

Most real estate investment trusts that invest in MBS and other mortgage-related assets reported declines in their holdings of agency and non-agency securities during the fourth quarter, according to a new Inside MBS & ABS ranking and analysis. The top publicly traded REITs had a combined residential MBS portfolio valued at $228.28 billion as of the end of 2016. That was down 3.5 percent from the previous quarter and off 6.5 percent from the end of 2015. The figures are preliminary because several smaller REITs have not yet reported fourth-quarter results. Agency MBS continued...[Includes one data table]

February 23, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

GSEs’ Combined Earnings Total Almost $10 Billion In 4Q16, Gains Driven by Rising Rates, G-fee Income

The U.S. Treasury doesn’t get to invest in the booming stock market, but its stake in two guarantors of mortgage-backed securities is making a killing. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac posted $9.9 billion in combined profits for the fourth quarter of 2016, and $20.2 billion for the full year. It was up 16.1 percent from 2015 and the fourth best year ever for the two government-sponsored enterprises. Their all-time high was...

February 17, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Fed’s Bullard: Shrinking Balance Sheet Could Begin, Yellen: Fed Won’t Sell MBS, Will Use Runoff Instead

The chatter about the Federal Reserve shrinking its massive $4.5 trillion balance sheet and its huge $1.7 trillion portfolio of agency MBS has continued in recent days, with one Fed official talking up the idea and another describing how the U.S. central bank plans to do it. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said in a speech last week that the Fed could begin normalizing its balance sheet. “The Fed’s balance sheet has been an important monetary policy tool during the period of near-zero policy rates,” Bullard said. Thus far, the Fed’s Open Market Committee has not set...

February 17, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Key Players in GSE Reform: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Commerce Chief Wilbur Ross, Craig Phillips and Others

Now that investment banker Steven Mnuchin has been installed as the Treasury secretary, work can begin on finding a solution to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government guarantors that serve as the linchpin to housing and mortgage markets. For the most part, senior mortgage officials who have been in the business for a decade or more applauded President Trump’s choice of Mnuchin, pointing to his days as the head of MBS trading at Goldman Sachs & Co. “At the very least, this is...

February 17, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Freddie Reports $4.9 Billion in Net Income for 4Q16 Thanks in Part to Assist from Rising Interest Rates

Freddie Mac reported a net income of $4.85 billion in the fourth quarter, more than double its earnings from the previous quarter and lifting its full-year income to $7.82 billion. The government-sponsored enterprise released its earnings this week, posting one of its best profits ever in the fourth quarter. Net income for the quarter was fueled in part by gains on derivatives which amounted to $6.38 billion. “Interest rates went up an unusually large amount in the fourth quarter, therefore you saw an unusually large gain in the accounting,” Freddie CEO Donald Layton told Inside MBS & ABS. Freddie also reported...

February 16, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

The Time is Right for a Boom in Servicing Sales. Another Month or Two of Slow Prepayments Could Spur Market

The secondary market for bulk agency mortgage servicing rights is beginning to pick up a decent head of steam, but one factor is holding it back from a full-throttle: worries about prepayment speeds. “We’ve had one month of low prepayment numbers,” said Mark Garland, president of MountainView Servicing Group, Denver. “A couple of more months would be better.” According to investment bankers who work the market, although rates have been on a steady climb since the November election – the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury is...

February 10, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Reform Still a Treasury Priority, Weighing Administrative Options

Treasury secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin still has GSE reform high on his list, according to one of President Trump’s top economic advisors. Meanwhile, speculation abounds as to whether there’s an administrative solution to GSE reform absent any legislative action. After some back and forth on the topic since the announcement of Mnuchin’s nomination his subsequent comments on the GSEs, economic advisor Gary Cohen said in national media outlets late last week that GSE reform is definitely a priority for Mnuchin. In fact, he said that it’s something Mnuchin’s spent a lot of time working on. “Once he gets approved and confirmed, Steve will be taking that on as one of this early priorities. So we definitely have some plans...

February 10, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Higher Interest Rates May Prompt Banks to Unload Fixed-Rate Product, Result in Fewer GSE Refis

Analysts at DBRS anticipate some notable changes in the residential mortgage securitization market this year, mostly as a result of expected higher interest rates. “Despite a healthy housing market recovery, post-crisis non-agency RMBS issuance has remained stagnant for several reasons,” said Quincy Tang, managing director of RMBS structured finance, in a new research report issued early this week. In addition to the dominance of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and bank balance-sheet capacity, “a persistently low interest rate environment has rendered...

February 10, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

As Rates Rise, MBS Liquidity Improves. The Wild Card: the Fed’s Plan to ‘Lighten’ Its Balance Sheet

The average daily trading volume in agency MBS increased to $229.8 billion during January, the second best reading of the past year, and a sign that liquidity is improving, thanks in part to higher interest rates. According to figures compiled by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the January reading was better than the daily trading averages posted for the past four years, which ranged from a low of $178.0 billion in 2014 to a high of $222.8 billion in 2013. Agency trading volumes peaked...

February 10, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Industry Supports Trump Review of Dodd-Frank; Will There Be a Repeal of ATR, QM, QRM?

Industry observers and groups expressed support this week for President Trump’s move to put the Dodd-Frank Act under the microscope, with an eye toward scaling back its regulatory burden and possibly replacing at least parts of it with more pro-market reforms. Late last week, Trump signed an executive order that directs the Treasury secretary to consult with the heads of the agencies that comprise the Financial Stability Oversight Council, review the current regulatory structure for the U.S. financial system, and report back in 120 days. The order also lays...

February 9, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Fairholme Explains That It’s Not a ‘Speculator’ in GSE Stock; Waiting on a Resolution that May Never Come?

In a new annual letter to shareholders, Fairholme Capital Management once again lays out its argument for investing in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stock, trying to explain to its wealthy investors that it feels more secure in owning junior preferred shares than common stock. Among other things, Fairholme said the preferred stock “provide(s) us with greater security and certainty than the common stock and, as you know, we are not speculators.” When it comes to a liquidation preference, preferred shareholders are senior to common shareholders, who often receive nothing when a company goes bust. But Fairholme’s problem – one shared by other firms that still own this class of stock – is...

February 9, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Trump Exec Order Puts Dodd-Frank in Crosshairs; No Immediate Impact, Sets Table for Future Action

President Trump late last week signed an executive order laying out his “core principles” for regulating the U.S. financial system, and giving the head of the Treasury Department 120 days to detail how the current massive regulatory regime measures up. Trump’s core principles include fostering informed consumer choices, preventing bailouts, promoting economic growth, tailoring regulations and ensuring regulatory accountability. The broadly-worded order specifies, “Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect ... the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof.” The order was...

February 3, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Federal Reserve Holds Steady on Interest Rates, Industry Pros Mull Shrinkage of Fed’s Balance Sheet

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee, as expected, held the line on interest rates this week at its first meeting of 2017, but still presumably stayed on track for multiple increases later in the year. What’s new is a recent resurgence of talk about how the central bank will shrink its massive balance sheet and its huge portfolio of agency MBS and debt, perhaps as early as next year. “In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1/2 to 3/4 percent,” the FOMC said. It added that committee members expect that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate. The Fed will...

February 3, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Fed Judge Puts an End to the Stall: Government Must Release Documents to GSE Shareholders in Legal Case

A federal appeals court has rejected government efforts to reverse a September ruling by Federal Claims Court Judge Margaret Sweeney ordering the government to turn over various memos, emails and presentations to investors in litigation involving the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac net worth sweep. On Jan. 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of investors in the two government-sponsored enterprises, upholding Sweeney’s earlier decision, and ordered the government to release 48 of the 56 documents because they don’t merit privilege treatment. Eight of the documents were...

February 2, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

GOP Executes a Work-Around to Push Through Favorable Votes on Nominee for Treasury, AG

A day after Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee delayed a vote on some of President Trump’s nominations by refusing to attend a confirmation hearing, Republicans used a parliamentary maneuver to push through a unanimous favorable vote on two of them. Mortgage industry observers were expecting positive votes this week from the committee on the nominations of Steve Mnuchin as the new head of the U.S. Treasury and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-AL, as the next U.S. Attorney General. However, Democrat members of the committee refused...

January 27, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Mnuchin Sets the Tone for Bipartisan GSE Reform

Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s recent comments that he’s not a fan of recapitalizing and releasing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and wants to find a “bipartisan solution” to GSE reform has caused speculation about what reform will look like under the Trump administration.The comments, made during his Senate confirmation hearing last week, presented a softer take on housing reform than his earlier comments suggested. Shortly after being ...

January 26, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Mnuchin Softens His Stance on GSE Privatization, Seeks Bipartisan Solution

Prospects for a relatively speedy administrative solution to the eight-year-old conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac appeared to dim after Treasury Secretary-nominee Steve Mnuchin backtracked from earlier comments on swiftly addressing the plight of the two government-sponsored enterprises. During a Jan. 19 Senate confirmation hearing, Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA, asked Mnuchin if he supports a recapitalization-and-release plan for the GSEs, as several industry groups have proposed. “First, let’s be clear,” Mnuchin said. “My comments were...

January 26, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Investors Who Bet Big on Fannie/Freddie Common Face the ‘Roach Motel’ Syndrome: Too Big to Sell?

Hedge fund manager Pershing Square Capital Management is facing a bit of a dilemma in regard to its huge investment in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac common stock: take profits off the table now – while it still can – or go for broke, hoping for a huge payout later on. At last check, Pershing – the brainchild of veteran investor Bill Ackman – owned roughly 9.98 percent of Fannie and 9.77 percent of Freddie. It accumulated the shares earlier in the decade at an average price of $2.30 for Fannie and $2.14 for Freddie. Today, Fannie’s common trades...

January 20, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

GSE Shareholder Case Outlook, Will the Trump Administration Make a Difference?

As a number of shareholder lawsuits against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hang in the balance, a new administration offers reasons for some to be optimistic on the cases coming to a close and the Treasury’s sweep of the government-sponsored enterprises’ profits coming to an end. During a Jan. 18 call hosted by Investors Unite, legal experts weighed in on the outlook for GSE shareholder cases just days before the inauguration. Plaintiffs have been arguing that a government bailout of the GSEs and the subsequent Treasury sweep was unnecessary and illegal. “As GSE shareholders, we are...

January 20, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Investor Cuts Stake in the Nation’s Largest Mortgage REIT Annaly as Rising Rates Cause Nervousness

International Value Advisors recently cut its stake in Annaly Capital Management – the nation’s largest mortgage real estate investment trust – by roughly half, a development that could be repeated by other investors as rising rates cause new concerns about MBS prices. At year-end, International owned 4.55 percent of Annaly compared to 9.60 percent a year earlier. Annaly’s largest investment is in agency MBS, of which it owned $73.5 billion at Sept. 30. The publicly traded REIT is...

January 19, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Fannie and Freddie are About to Provide a Revenue Gift to the Trump Administration

Thanks to stellar fourth quarter MBS issuance – coupled with higher interest rates at Dec. 31 – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are likely to report their best quarterly earnings of 2016, money that will go directly into the U.S. Treasury. According to interviews conducted by Inside Mortgage Finance this week, the general consensus among observers is that the two government-sponsored enterprises will post a combined profit north of $5.5 billion. In 2016, the two guaranteed...

January 19, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Trump’s Plans for Corporate Tax Reduction Could Prompt Treasury Draw by GSEs and Spur GSE Reform Activity

Legislative reform of the government-sponsored enterprises doesn’t appear to be a high priority for Republican lawmakers, but President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to reduce the corporate tax rate could inadvertently prompt some GSE reform activity, according to industry analysts. As of the end of the third quarter of 2016, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had a combined $53.80 billion in deferred tax assets. The DTAs result from differences between the carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities under generally accepted accounting principles and their respective tax bases. The DTAs are...

January 19, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Trump Administration Expected to Freeze Cut in FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums

The Trump administration is expected to put a temporary freeze on the 25 basis point cut in FHA annual premiums that is scheduled to take effect Jan. 27. One industry source noted: “On Jan. 20, President Trump will be issuing an executive order that freezes all past actions over a certain period of time. The FHA premium reduction gets swept into this.” Sources told...

January 13, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

GSE Roundup

Moody’s says HAMP Replacement Program Credit Neutral for CRTs. The GSEs’ new Flex Modification foreclosure prevention program that will replace the expired Home Affordable Modification Program has a neutral credit impact on GSE risk-risk transfer deals. Moody’s said that the volume of modifications and the re-default performance under the Flex program will be comparable to modification levels and performance under the current programs. The firm also noted that the new program will not result in increased modification volume. Servicers have until Oct. 1, 2017, to implement the new program. Freddie’s Recent ACIS Transaction. Last week, Freddie Mac announced its last Agency Credit Insurance Structure of 2016 in the form of a $285 million offering. The GSE said it...

January 13, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Treasury Dept. Talks Housing Progress and New Goals

As the guard prepares to change in a week, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in an exit memo released last week that only legislation can comprehensively address “the ongoing shortcomings of the housing finance system.” In the memo, Lew documents the Treasury’s progress over the last eight years and outlines his goals for the future of the department. He said that fixing the housing finance system remains the major unfinished piece of work of post-financial crisis reform. While he said the housing market has improved, Lew acknowledged that many homeowners and neighborhoods continue to struggle. “A starting point for such legislation should be the principles President Obama laid out in 2013, which stressed a clearly-defined role for the...

January 13, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Investors Unite Hopes Privatization Leads to Shareholder Fairness

With increased talk of privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Investors Unite wants reassurance that shareholders will be treated fairly. The GSE shareholders rights trade group said, “Now everybody is talking about ending the conservatorship,” in a recent blog posting. While that may be an exaggeration, since the presidential election there has been a renewed interest in bringing the GSEs out of its eight-plus years conservatorship, where they’ve been since September 2008. Recent talks began with and snowballed after Treasury-secretary designee Steve Mnuchin said that getting the GSEs out of government control would be a top priority for the new presidential administration. And Mnuchin said that he plans to do this “reasonably fast.”

January 13, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

The Outlook for GSE Reform Brightens, But When and How is a Different Story

Change in the political balance in Washington that put the GOP in control of both houses of Congress and the executive branch has fueled speculation that something will finally be done to resolve the conservatorships of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As in the past, there is no shortage of competing proposals. At an Urban Institute seminar this week, Rick Lazio, former Republican congressman from New York, said...


With rates higher this year, there has been talk of lenders liberalizing their underwriting standards in an effort to increase volume and make up for lower refis.

Do you think your shop will loosen standards over the coming three months?

Yes, but not by much.
Yes, by a lot.
Yes and, heck, we may even do non-QM lending.
No, not at all.
No and we may even tighten credit.

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