It appears that the $400 billion that taxpayers shelled out to keep mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from going under just isn't going to be enough. This Bloomberg article by Dawn Kopeckie reports that the government will probably end up bailing Freddie and Fannie out for a second time to the tune of well over $100 billion:
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's federal regulator is renegotiating the companies' financing plan with the U.S. Treasury Department and may seek an increase to their $400 billion federal lifeline before the end of the year, according to people familiar with the talks.
Treasury and Federal Housing Finance Agency officials are also debating whether to lower the cost of the companies' dividend payments on their borrowings from Treasury, according to these people, who requested not to be identified describing the internal deliberations.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest sources of mortgage money in the U.S., have used $111.6 billion of their $400 billion in backup financing in less than a year. The companies say their 10 percent annual dividend payment, which comes to about $5 billion apiece, costs more than either have earned in most years and adds to their draws on Treasury.
FHFA spokeswoman Stefanie Mullin, Treasury spokeswoman Meg Reilly, Freddie Mac spokesman Doug Duvall and Fannie Mae spokesman Brian Faith declined to comment.
The financing plan instituted for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac requires them to reduce their $1.57 trillion combined mortgage portfolios by 10 percent annually starting next year and caps their debt issuance at 120 percent of their assets.
Why can't these guys get their act together? A big part of the problem is that the Obama administration is using the mortgage giants as a backstop for refinancing loans from homeowners who are already in trouble:
The companies are an integral part of President Barack Obama's housing-relief plan and have been pushed by the government to help more homeowners modify or refinance their loans to more affordable terms to curb foreclosures. The government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, own or guarantee about $5.5 trillion of the $11 trillion in U.S. residential mortgage debt.
"With the GSEs being used as public policy tools, it is impossible to quantify with certainty what losses might be in a stress scenario, as the rules of the game might keep shifting," Setia said.
About 50% of consumers who have taken advantage of government refinancing packages are already behind in their mortgage payments again. This will almost certainly pressure Treasury officials to unilaterally, and without congressional approval, give Fannie and Freddie the extra cash.