Browse articles from all of our Newsletters related to Treasury.

March 17, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Government Must Turn Over Unprivileged Documents Relating to Treasury Sweep

In a prominent Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholder case, the government was ordered to go back through thousands of documents related to the Treasury sweep to determine whether they fall under the executive privilege that has been more narrowly defined. In an attempt to make sure the government asserted privilege properly on the 11,000 documents it is withholding, Federal Claims Court Judge Margaret Sweeney asked it to reexamine the large batch and turn over any that don’t merit secrecy by April 17. This order follows...

March 17, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Trump Administration Plan to Tackle Tax Reform Expected to Have an Impact on Housing Reform

Tax reform may have a significant impact on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, before federal policymakers get around to resolving the long-running conservatorships of the two government-sponsored enterprises. Reducing the corporate tax rate is a big component of the Trump administration’s tax reform plan, but it could force the GSEs to write down the value of their deferred tax assets. “It is...

March 17, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

Federal Reserve Chooses to Raise Fed Funds Rate, Defers Talk About Its Huge Agency Portfolio

For the third time in as many years, the U.S. Federal Reserve decided to raise the federal funds rate by 25 basis points this week, as widely expected – only this time, the Fed didn’t wait until the very end of the year. The FOMC’s revised projections are for two additional quarter-point rate hikes later this year, three next year and three or four the year after. World stock indexes rallied...

March 10, 2017 - Inside The GSEs

Government Ordered to to Review Documents for Bogus Privilege Claims

The government has until April 17 to prove that the 11,000 documents it is withholding are correctly labeled as “privileged.” This week, a ruling by Federal Claims Court Judge Margaret Sweeney ordered the government to review the documents and release those that are non-privileged to the plaintiff’s attorneys in Fairholme Funds Inc. et al., v. The United States. The order came on the heels of a January appeals court ruling that found the bulk of a batch of 56 documents the government refused to turn over to the plaintiff’s attorneys, after being ordered to do so last year, did not merit privilege treatment. They included various memos, emails and presentations from the Treasury, Federal Housing...

March 9, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Support Grows for Bill to Prevent Government From Tapping G-fees for Unrelated Funding

More than a dozen mortgage and housing groups are backing a House bill that would prevent guaranty fees on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage-backed securities from being hijacked to pay for unrelated government spending. A joint trade group letter, signed by the Mortgage Bankers Association, Community Mortgage Lenders of America, the American Bankers Association, U.S. Mortgage Insurers and others, argues that tapping g-fees for other unrelated purposes imposes an “unjustified burden” on homeowners who would be forced to pay for the increase through higher monthly payments for the life of their loan. Our organizations were...

March 3, 2017 - Inside MBS & ABS

How Much Longer Can Hedge Funds Hold on to Their GSE Stock Wagers?

Late last month, Fairholme Capital chief Bruce Berkowitz sent out a press release reassuring his shareholders that the hedge fund’s bet on owning the junior preferred stock of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will prevail, eventually. Among other things, the veteran equity-fund manager extolled the government-sponsored enterprises’ massive fourth quarter profits of almost $10 billion, called them “indispensable” to the mortgage insurance industry and reminded readers they continue to fulfill “their historic role of insuring adequate levels of liquidity to lenders of all sizes.” He also mentioned...

March 2, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Industry Participants Push to Include Servicing Reforms in Broader Housing Reform Efforts

As policymakers work toward housing finance reform, industry participants are forming plans to ensure that servicing issues are addressed. The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center recently launched the Mortgage Servicing Collaborative, which will provide data on servicing issues and analyze possible solutions. “We are...

March 2, 2017 - Inside Mortgage Finance

Mortgage Servicing Compensation Is an Issue That Won’t Die; Now Treasury May Weigh In

With servicing costs climbing the past five years, the issue of how much to pay residential loan processers is once again rearing its ugly head. And depending on who you talk to, the Treasury Department may take up the issue as well, especially since it controls the senior preferred stock of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. One industry advisor involved in the topic, speaking under the condition his name not be used, told...

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...


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.