Note: Look at their Semi-Annual Report Vs. Annual Report and you will see Fairlhome Funds shows FNMA Common Shares rose in their portfolio from 14.5 million to 24.7 million.
The market gyrations experienced during 2015 do not reflect our progress in halting Treasury’s unlawful taking of Fannie Mae’s and Freddie
Mac’s assets. Indeed, newly discovered evidence – which shows the government’s defense to be outright false – was subsequently
presented to the D.C. Circuit Court (under seal as required), and plaintiffs in other cases from the Northern District of Iowa to the Eastern
District of Kentucky have now obtained these documents as well. We remain confident that Treasury’s deliberate effort to realign the
equity of each company and allocate all profits to itself in perpetuity is strictly prohibited by federal and state law, and anticipate that
several of these cases will be adjudicated this year.
Today, taxpayers own 79.9% of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In this respect, taxpayers are fully aligned with private shareholders of these
extremely valuable companies. In our view, anyone claiming that shareholders are seeking remuneration at “taxpayer expense” is peddling
fiction. Only the disingenuous would assert that recapitalization of these companies would take decades and come at taxpayer expense, as
if retaining earnings precluded the ability of each company to raise equity from private investors. Only those beholden to special interests
would ignore the substantial reforms implemented at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the last eight years and pretend that the companies
are somehow doomed to repeat the past upon release from conservatorship. Only those who oppose the dream of American homeownership
would attempt to dismantle President Franklin Roosevelt’s
by eliminating two publicly traded, shareholder-owned companies that
have single-handedly provided $7 trillion dollars – yes,
– in liquidity to support America’s mortgage market since 2009.
Shareholders simply request that the Treasury Department respect the capital structure of each company, respect the economic bundle
of rights associated with our securities, and respect the law setting forth the rules of a conservatorship as decreed by Congress. The
economist Herbert Stein once famously said: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Sooner rather than later, we believe the Net
Worth Sweep will be halted and a common sense solution will prevail: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will transform into low-risk, public
utilities with regulated rates of return, just like your local electric company.
Fairlhome Funds shows fnma common shares rose in their portfolio from 14.5 million to 24.7 million
Federal Reserve Bank of New York officials secretly conducted real-time exercises during the 2011 and 2013 debt-limit crisis that demonstrated the federal government could function during a temporary shutdown by prioritizing spending, even as Treasury Secretary Jack Lew publicly claimed many times that such efforts were “unworkable,” according to a new report by the House Financial Services Committee obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The staff report, to be released Tuesday, charges that Lew and other Obama administration officials deliberately misled Congress and the public during the federal budget and debt limit showdowns in both years. The committee will convene a public hearing on the report Feb. 2.
The report also states that the Obama administration crafted actual contingency plans to pay for Social Security and veterans benefits, as well as principal and interest on the national debt if the government was temporarily unable to borrow more money. The Committee concludes that over the last two years the Treasury Department has “obstructed” congressional efforts to get to the bottom of the administration’s real-time policy during the two showdowns.
The Constitution stipulates that only Congress can determine how much money the federal government can borrow. Presidents thus cannot unilaterally spend beyond congressional debt ceiling limits set. The committee — chaired by Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas — charged that during both confrontations, the Obama administration held the country’s creditworthiness “hostage” by claiming default was the only p“These internal documents show the Obama Administration took the nation’s creditworthiness and economy hostage in a cynical attempt to create a crisis so the president could get what he wanted during negotiations over the debt ceiling,” Hensarling said in a statement to be released with the report Tuesday.
The report also revealed that the Treasury Department did not publicly divulge its plans to prioritize payments “for the express purpose of creating market uncertainty in an effort to pressure Congress to acquiesce in the administration’s ‘no negotiation’ posture on the debt ceiling.”
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Sean Duffy, the financial services panel’s oversight subcommittee chairman, said the administration “manufactured a crisis to put politics ahead of economic stability.”
The massive, 322-page report chronicles frank, behind-the-scenes discussions among Federal Reserve Board and Federal Bank of New York officials as Congress debated whether to keep existing debt limits or allow Treasury to borrow more money. The House committee and the Treasury Department have been fighting a bitter, two-year battle over Federal Reserve documents.
The report states that “Treasury apparently directed the New York Fed not to answer valid congressional oversight inquiries because Treasury knew the answers would expose the dishonesty of the administration’s public statements.”
A Treasury Department spokesman told TheDCNF, “Treasury has been committed to working cooperatively with the Committee to provide it with the information it needs,” including providing it with the New York Fed documents. The report is based on 3,878 pages of internal documents the committee eventually acquired despite Treasury’s opposition. The panel finally obtained the documents by subpoena. The report contains 41 separate appendices.
The revelations will likely add new intensity to the long-running public debate on the proper level of federal spending as the 2016 election campaign accelerates with Monday’s Iowa presidential caucus and next week’s New Hampshire presidential primary. Obama administration officials repeatedly declared that a complete government shutdown with no partial or interim payments was the only alternative to congressional approval of an increased debt ceiling.
In testimony Oct. 13, 2013, before the Senate Finance Committee, for example, Lew said the government could not “pick and choose” the funding of individual government programs once the debt limit ceiling was reached.
“I do not believe there is a way to pick and choose on a broad basis. The system was not designed to be turned off selectively,” Lew said.
The Federal Reserve documents revealed in the report show the Obama administration was in fact prepared to pick and choose which payments to make “in order to protect the creditworthiness of the United States.”
An internal e-mail from an official in the New York Fed’s Financial Institution Supervision Group states that regardless of the congressional outcome, “Treasury is adamant they will make [Principal and Interest] payments. Not considering possibility of missing debt payments.” The P&I payments are made to Treasury bond holders.
“At the same time that Treasury was insisting to Congress and the American people that prioritization is unworkable, Treasury and New York Fed officials were working behind the scenes on a prioritization plan,” the report charges.
In private, Federal Reserve Board Federal Reserve Bank of New York officials vigorously denounced the administration’s secrecy over its contingency planning, one calling it “crazy, counter-productive, and add[ing] risk to an already risky situation.”
Federal Reserve Governor Jerome H. Powell, for example, complained that the administration tactics were part of political brinkmanship. “Treasury wants to maximize pressure on Congress by limiting communications on contingency planning,” he said in an email.
The report noted that both the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Federal Bank of New York had “grave concerns with Treasury’s political decision not to inform the public of the administration’s debt ceiling contingency plans.”
The Federal Reserve Board staff “strongly encouraged Treasury to reveal its plan in advance” so that the private sector could prepare properly for a debt ceiling event but Treasury officials were “very reluctant to do so,” according to the report.
The Federal Reserve documents also depict officials at the Federal Bank of New York twice engaging in intense “tabletop exercises” about how government agencies could operate under a spending limit.
A March 16, 2011, table-top exercise included an hour-by-hour simulation of how 29 governmental agencies and market players would react when the federal government reached its debt limit.
At the time, the federal government would be within $25 million of its $14.3 trillion budget limit. The Secretary of the Treasury would invoke the Federal Reserve Debt Ceiling Crisis procedures, which provide that the “The President and the Secretary of the Treasury meet with the Fed Chairman at noon and agree that the Federal Reserve should pursue actions to honor and settle SSI, veterans benefits and P&I payments.” SSI refers to Social Security and disability payments.
A similar April 9, 2013, debt ceiling table-top exercise focused on a “scenario” in which “Treasury begins controlling the flow of payments” and in which ”SSI, veterans benefits and P&I payments [would] be prioritized over all other governmental obligations.” The debt ceiling was $16.3 trillion at the time of the second exercise.
The procedures also state that “based on direction from the President, Treasury will pay only selected type of payments and withhold other government payments.”
Both Moody’s and Goldman Sachs publicly suggested during the 2013 crisis that it was possible the government could assure markets by pledging to pay principal and interest, Social Social and veterans benefits.
When contacted by TheDCNF, the Treasury Department did not directly address the issue of prioritizing payments but forwarded an October 16, 2015 blog, which stated in part, “The New York Fed’s system would be technologically capable of continuing to make principal and interest payment,” but added, “this approach would be entirely experimental and create unacceptable risk to both domestic and global financial markets.”
Multiple think tanks, including the Mercatus Center, have released reports suggesting numerous alternatives to default if the debt limit ceiling is not increased.
The national debt limit has tripled under Obama and now stands at $18.9 trillion.
ossibility if the debit ceiling was not raised.
Wall Street sold off on Monday, pulled lower by further weakness in oil prices as energy shares led declines, with major indexes retreating after last week's strong gains.
Revolving Door Raises Ethics Questions in Housing Reform Debate
By Guest Post on December 18, 2015 7:54 am in Top Stories
How easy is it to move between government and industry without running afoul of the law? If Jim Parrott’s relationship with Bank of America is any indication, it’s pretty straightforward. But a new ethics complaint may test that assumption.
Parrott advised the White House about how to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during 2011 and 2012 before jumping ship to form his own consultancy. Before a year was out, Parrott appears to have landed a major client: Bank of America, which was keenly interested in how the Obama administration might reform the two mortgage-credit behemoths.
This spin through revolving door underscores how former government officials can try to influence policy by hewing closely to the letter of the law, even if the actual work reflects what ethics laws sought to prevent, namely trading on experience and connections.
Meredith McGehee, policy director with The Campaign Legal Center, a group that tracks ethics and legal issues, said that as long as former officials avoid drawing an explicit line between their former work on a specific issue and their private-sector client, they are generally in the clear.
“In practice, anyone with an ounce of smarts knows how to go back to the agency and do things fairly generically without discussing the actual matter, and get the message they want across,” McGehee said.
InsideSources first reported evidence that Parrott was working with Bank of America in July 2014, advising it on the future of Fannie and Freddie. Last week, The New York Times published an investigation of the ties between government service and three former senior officials in the Obama administration, one of whom was Parrott. The Times also reported that Parrott counseled the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank, and concluded after examining visitor logs that Parrott had six meetings with housing policy officials at the White House — following a one-year cooling-off period — after leaving the government.
Parrott denied that he advocated on behalf of his clients during meetings with the government. “I give them a sense of how people are thinking and how things are likely going to develop in their world,” he told The Times.
The Campaign for Accountability, a non-profit watchdog group, earlier this week called for a Department of Justice investigation of Parrott and two other senior Obama administration officials who left the government and counseled banks seeking a piece of the future mortgage market.
“With the country’s $5.7 trillion home mortgage market at stake, the debate over the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has been highly controversial and has involved a large number of players spending untold sums to influence the outcome,” Anne Weismann, the group’s executive director, wrote Justice today. “When it appears that those involved in influencing the outcome of important policy decisions may have crossed ethical lines and violated conflict of interest laws, Americans’ confidence in those decisions is undermined.”
The group also took aim at two other well-known figures in policy debates over housing finance: David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association and former head of the Federal Housing Administration, and Michael Berman, a senior counselor in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, who became a private-sector consultant.
Stevens and Berman both emphasized, in written statements, that they’d consulted closely with government ethics lawyers as part of their career transitions. John Mechem, a spokesman for MBA, said Stevens notified and worked with ethics officials “from the moment” the group contacted him about a job. Berman added: “After I left HUD, I never even met with the Administration to discuss GSE reform , and I have never represented anyone as a lobbyist.”
The overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which buy mortgages from private companies to improve liquidity, ranks as perhaps the largest chunk of unfinished business in Washington to deal with the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis that took down major banks and brought on a serious recession.
Then Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson took the two companies into federal “custodianship” in 2008, and handed their management over to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Known as “government-sponsored enterprises” (GSEs), the firms had private shareholders but its debt, purchased by investors and governments around the world, enjoyed the implicit backing of the U.S. government. Faced with the inability to pay, the two companies effectively threatened the creditworthiness of the U.S. government.
Since then, Congress has wrestled with how to reform Fannie and Freddie, with partisan divisions being only part of the reason why nothing has happened. Some Republicans would prefer to see the two companies shut down, while others insist that any changes preserve the viability of the 30-year mortgage. Democrats are prone to emphasize the government’s role in promoting home ownership among middle-income families.
The overall goal is to bring private capital back into the housing finance system. Most mortgages are now guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, 7 years after Paulson acted. With $13.7 trillion in mortgage credit outstanding at the end of September, according to the Federal Reserve, the stakes over how the government overhauls the system could hardly be larger for major banks.
Bank of America looms large as a lender that could, with its extensive branch network and customer relationships, play a larger role in mortgage finance, depending on how Fannie and Freddie are restructured. It spent $360,000 in the third quarter of this year alone on lobbying related to a clutch of issues including GSE reform, according to its lobbying disclosure forms.
It isn’t alone. Other interested parties include American International Group, the insurer that also got a bailout from the U.S. government in 2008, Black Rock, a major asset management firm and the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents the nation’s largest financial companies.
Smaller banks, a politically-potent lobby in their own right, have kept a nervous eye on efforts by large banks to influence the nation’s housing finance system. Eliminating Fannie and Freddie, which bought loans from all banks, would expose smaller banks to tougher competition from bank behemoths, said Ron Haynie, vice president for mortgage finance policy at the Independent Community Bankers of America.
“It provides an opportunity for the biggest lenders to cherry-pick the customers that smaller banks have,” Haynie said. “You’ll end up with directors on our members’ boards getting mortgage solicitations from Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase.”
Ethics laws have sought to discourage the kind of back-and-forth between government and industry that has fed cynicism about the political process. They aim to curb the practice by homing in on two questions. Has a former official worked at an agency on a particular matter? Has the former official advocated for a client to that agency? An affirmative response to both questions, and the former official is probably in trouble.
Specificity matters. If an official was involved in a specific procurement contract, for military hardware, for example, then that official could never legally circle back to his or her former agency after leaving the government to advocate for a client on that specific contract.
“Senior staff in the executive branch who were substantially and personally involved in an official matter that involved a specific party, such as a government contract, are permanently prohibited from making lobbying contacts on the same matter with executive agencies,” said Christopher DeLacy, who heads the political law group at Holland & Knight,
Something sounds fishy to me. Low volume drops? In the past we had huge volume with major drops. So whats really going on.. Someone needs to close the backdoor hand outs...
So the question for Mr. Pollock why did he do a 180 from his previous article dated on July 23, 2013 GSE Reform Bills Are Right to End Fannie and Freddie?
** My Question: Why has Alex Pollock changed his position regarding the GSEs all sudden? **
In the midst of the financial panic seven years ago, the government took over and bailed out two of the culprits of the bubble, the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Now, as we start 2016, they have $5 trillion in assets but are still entirely wards of the state. It’s high time to resolve this great unfinished business. We need to extract Fannie and Freddie from their government bondage, while simultaneously ensuring they will never repeat their disastrous free ride on the taxpayers.
In September, 2008, Fannie and Freddie were put in federal conservatorship as their losses from bad loans and subprime investments swamped them. The Treasury Department eventually invested $189 billion of taxpayers’ money to get their capital up to zero. Under the bailout deal, Fannie and Freddie had to pay a 10 percent annual dividend on the $189 billion in senior preferred stock that the Treasury acquired. (In addition, the government owns warrants on 79.9 percent of Fannie and Freddie common stock, which pays no dividend.)
Of course, other big financial institutions received Treasury investments as well. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citicorp, and Bank of America—the nation’s four largest banks—received a combined $90 billion. AIG, the giant insurer, received $68 billion from the Treasury and more from the Federal Reserve. All repaid the money and continue as privately owned, publicly traded companies.
Fannie and Freddie have not retired a dollar of the government investment, although they have paid $241 billion in dividends on the Treasury’s senior preferred stock. In 2012, the government, in an agreement between conservator and the Treasury—that is, an agreement between the government and itself—changed the deal. In regular “profit sweeps,” the dividend was re-defined as all of the institutions’ net profit except a bit of working capital. This abrupt change of terms has been challenged in the courts by investors, so far without success.
As a result of the sweeps, Fannie and Freddie cannot build capital. Their combined $5 trillion in liabilities is supported by a mere $5 billion in equity, for a risible capital ratio of 0.1 percent. Even minor losses would thus require more bailout money. Compare that to the 5 percent minimum capital ratio required of large banks.
So here we are: The two mortgage funders are effectively federal bureaucracies, stripped of their independence, with basically zero capital, but still dominating the market for mortgage financing.
What to do? Politicians on the left like the situation the way it is, with Fannie and Freddie under total government control and subject to the same political pressures to provide high-risk mortgages that got them into trouble in the first place. Conservatives are ambivalent. Many especially despise Fannie for its history as a Democratic Party fiefdom and would prefer to kill off both firms. Others want to re-launch them in privatized form onto the free-market, but aren’t sure how.
There is a way. Fannie and Freddie shouldn’t remain government agencies, but they shouldn’t die either because they have built considerable organizational value over the decades. The key is to transition the entities to the private sector by eliminating the previous special advantages that came with their status as government-sponsored enterprises. They should have to compete on an equal footing with the big banks. Here’s how to do that:
First, Congress should return Fannie and Freddie to the free market by eliminating the sweep on the mortgage giants’ profits each quarter and instead reinstituting the original 10 percent dividend on the Treasury’s senior preferred stock. This change should be extended back to 2012, as if the “profit sweeps” agreement never happened. Any difference between the sweep and the initially negotiated 10 percent dividend can be used to pay down the principal on the government’s senior preferred stock until it is retired. Treasury would also be required to exercise the warrants it owns for 79.9 percent of Fannie and Freddie’s common stock, and then sell the shares into the market over time.
Second, lawmakers must end Fannie and Freddie’s unfair advantage over other banks. Treasury should end the conservatorship and designate Fannie and Freddie as systemically important financial institutions, subject to the same capital-ratio requirements as large banks like JP Morgan Chase. This denies Fannie and Freddie a capital advantage over the private sector and adds a key layer of safety for taxpayers.
Congress should also make Fannie and Freddie pay a fee for the implicit federal backing that their bonds enjoy. Investors will still rightly believe that the mortgage giants enjoy an implicit backing from the federal government—and thus will be able to borrow at preferred rates. To offset this, the feds should simply charge a fee through a levy on total liabilities—the same way banks pay for deposit insurance.
Third, lawmakers must end the current exemption Fannie and Freddie enjoy from state and local corporate income taxes and enforce the law that requires increasing the g-fees that Fannie and Freddie charge to guarantee mortgage-backed securities. Those fees are now artificially low, keeping out private competitors.
Finally, Congress should ensure that Fannie and Freddie are no longer used as vehicles to promote social agendas or reward political constituencies by requiring normal congressional appropriations for what the two entities used to dole out from their subsidized profits.
Under this proposal, the two institutions would become private financial institutions on a par with other large banks. They would no longer be government-sponsored enterprises, trading favors with politicians for an implicit free guarantee. Fannie and Freddie would have to raise their own capital through debt or equity offerings and retained profits and slug it out with JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America and whatever other banks want to compete in the mortgage liquidity business.
In the omnibus funding bill last month, Congress inserted a “jump-start” provision that prevents Treasury from imposing more unilateral conditions on Fannie and Freddie like the 2012 sweep. The responsibility now lies with Congress itself to clean up the great unfinished business of 2008.
Alex Pollock, former president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, is a distinguished senior fellow at the R Street Institute. James K. Glassman, a former Under Secretary of State, is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
The biggest problem is multi lawsuits, so much documents under lock and key by government hiding, and many other issues causing many delays. Every case is effecting each other.
I have contacted Mrs. Morgenson by email awaiting for her response. Sent 9:00 am Saturday January 16, 2016
Write a new piece for the public eyes on the detailed break down on the Delaware brief. Print portions of the brief so the public can read for itself an accurate explanation of the “absurdity” of the Net Worth Sweep that was taken from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Its time for Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times to write her new piece for the public eyes on the detailed break down on the Delaware brief. Brings portions of brief to print so the public can read for itself an accurate explanation of the “absurdity” of the Net Worth Sweep.