Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's Financial Problems [July 23, 2012]   [open pdf - 339KB]

From the Summary: "The continuing conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at a time of uncertainty in the housing, mortgage, and financial markets has raised doubts about the future of these enterprises, which are chartered by Congress as government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and whose debts are widely believed to be implicitly guaranteed by the federal government. In 2008, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) replaced the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) as the GSEs' safety and soundness regulator and took them into conservatorship. OFHEO had repeatedly assured investors that Fannie and Freddie had adequate capital, but as highly leveraged financial intermediaries, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had limited capital to cushion themselves against losses. […] Once Treasury's support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ends, sometime after 2012, the GSEs will be challenged to pay the 10% annual cash dividend contained in their contracts. The enterprises could instead pay a 12% annual senior preferred stock dividend indefinitely. In August 2011, Standard & Poor's downgraded the debt of the federal government, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. To date, there is no evidence that this has increased mortgage interest rates, but the impact may take longer to occur or to be detected. Legislation introduced in the 112th Congress, the future of the GSEs, and ways to reduce the cost to the federal government are analyzed in CRS [Congressional Research Service] Report R41822, 'Proposals to Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the 112th Congress', by N. Eric Weiss."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34661
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