Fannie Mae back at the trough

Anybody else see a problem with this?

Fannie Mae needs another $15 billion in federal assistance, bringing its total to more than $75 billion. And worse, the mortgage finance company warned its losses will continue this year.

The rescue of Fannie Mae and sister company Freddie Mac is turning out to be one of the most expensive aftereffects of the financial meltdown. The new request means the total bill for the duo will top $126 billion.

And the pain isn’t over. Fannie warned Friday that it will need even more money from the Treasury, as unemployment remains high and millions of Americans lose their homes through foreclosure.

Why are we continuing to provide taxpayer money to a failing program?  This is  a bailout that needs to end.

Fannie Mae reported Friday that it lost $74.4 billion, or $13.11 a share, last year, including $2.5 billion in dividends paid to the government. That compares with a loss of $59.8 billion, or $24 a share, a year earlier.

Fannie Mae, which was seized by federal regulators in September 2008, has racked up losses totaling $136.8 billion over the past three year.

Late last year, the Obama administration pledged to cover unlimited losses through 2012 for Freddie and Fannie, lifting an earlier cap of $400 billion.

Earlier in the week, Freddie reported a loss of almost $26 billion for last year. The company didn’t request any more money, but expect to do so later this year.

In the private sector a business that loses this much money would be “up creek”.  When your owned by the government your losses are covered, even when the government doesn’t have the money to do so.  Just how is this pledge going to be paid for?  Why put more debt on our children and grandchildren?

Fannie and Freddie play a vital role in the mortgage market by purchasing mortgages from lenders and selling them to investors. Together the pair own or guarantee almost 31 million home loans worth about $5.5 trillion. That’s about half of all mortgages.

“Through this prolonged stress in the housing market, we are helping homeowners across the country, supporting affordable housing, and providing financing to keep the residential markets functioning,” the company’s chief executive, Mike Williams, said in a statement.

That’s all fine and good.  But it shouldn’t be at the expense of the taxpayer, especially when the taxpayers are paying because you do something stupid like loosen your lending standards.

The two companies, however, loosened their lending standards for borrowers during the real estate boom and are reeling from the consequences. At the end of last year, nearly 5.4 percent of Fannie Mae’s borrowers had missed at least one payment — dramatically higher than historic levels. (Source: MSNBC)

Instead of asking for more taxpayer assistance, here’s a novel idea.  Tighten your lending standards and make the changes necessary to stop the bleeding.

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