Freddie Mac Narrowly Dodges ANOTHER Taxpayer Bailout

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Freddie Mac, the home lending giant largely associated with the subprime mortgage crisis, narrowly avoided another taxpayer bailout Tuesday.

The corporation – which was placed under government conservatorship in 2008 – reported a net loss of $354 million Tuesday. If its total equity goes negative, it could be looking for taxpayer funds once again, reports The Wall Street Journal, although it currently has a $1.2 billion cushion.

The loss means it won’t have to pay dividends to the Department of Treasury as it is obligated to do when it turns a profit under the terms of the modified bailout agreement. Taxpayers bailed out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae after the 2008 financial crisis in the form of $188 billion Treasury buyout of shares.

“As a result of the company’s comprehensive loss in the first quarter of 2016, Freddie Mac’s total equity declined to $1.0 billion at March 31, 2016,” the company said in its earnings report. “Because the company’s net worth of $1.0 billion as of March 31, 2016 was less than the applicable capital reserve amount for 2016 of $1.2 billion, the company will not have a dividend obligation in June 2016.”

Following a $475 million hit in the third quarter last year, many experts warned Freddie would have to once again borrow from the government if it sustained a big enough loss.

“Starting January 1, 2018, the Enterprises will have no capital buffer and no ability to weather quarterly losses – such as the non-credit related loss incurred by Freddie Mac in the third quarter of last year – without making a draw against the remaining Treasury commitments under the PSPAs (Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements),” Melvin Watt,  the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, cautioned in a speech in February.

According to the corporation, Freddie had an estimated fair value loss of $1.4 billion, which it attributed to decreased interest rates and another $600 million due to the “spread widening on certain mortgage loans and mortgage-related securities measured at fair value.”

The corporation is expected to have its capital reserves decrease to zero by 2018 due to the way the bailout agreement was designed.

Freddie Mac has returned a total of $98.2 billion to taxpayers to Treasury since it was bailed out.

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Juliegrace Brufke