Obama's Secret Santa Gift to the American Taxpayer: Unlimited Liability for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae Losses

One of those issues which is decidedly non-sexy and math-oriented that the public tunes out on.

Unfortunately giving the administration a free pass to further sock the taxpayer in the eternal cause of redistribution of wealth.

Happy New Year, readers, but before we get on with the debates of 2010, there's still some ugly 2009 business to report: To wit, the Treasury's Christmas Eve taxpayer massacre lifting the $400 billion cap on potential losses for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as the limits on what the failed companies can borrow.

The Treasury is hoping no one notices, and no wonder. Taxpayers are continuing to buy senior preferred stock in the two firms to cover their growing losses—a combined $111 billion so far. When Treasury first bailed them out in September 2008, Congress put a $200 billion limit ($100 billion each) on federal assistance. Last year, the Treasury raised the potential commitment to $400 billion. Now the limit on taxpayer exposure is, well, who knows?

The firms have made clear that they may only be able to pay the preferred dividends they owe taxpayers by borrowing still more money . . . from taxpayers....

The loss cap is being lifted because the government has directed both companies to pursue money-losing strategies by modifying mortgages to prevent foreclosures. Most of their losses are still coming from subprime and Alt-A mortgage bets made during the boom, but Fannie reported last quarter that loan modifications resulted in $7.7 billion in losses, up from $2.2 billion the previous quarter.

The government wants taxpayers to think that these are profit-seeking companies being nursed back to health, like AIG. But at least AIG is trying to make money. Fan and Fred are now designed to lose money, transferring wealth from renters and homeowners to overextended borrowers.

Even better for the political class, much of this is being done off the government books. The White House budget office still doesn't fully account for Fannie and Freddie's spending as federal outlays, though Washington controls the companies. Nor does it include as part of the national debt the $5 trillion in mortgages—half the market—that the companies either own or guarantee. The companies have become Washington's ultimate off-balance-sheet vehicles, the political equivalent of Citigroup's SIVs, that are being used to subsidize and nationalize mortgage finance.


That's why on Christmas Eve Treasury also rolled back a key requirement of the 2008 bailout—that Fan and Fred begin shrinking the portfolios of mortgages they own on their own account, which total a combined $1.5 trillion. Risk-taking will now increase, so that the government can once again follow Barney Frank's infamous advice that the companies "roll the dice" on subsidies for affordable housing.

There's important stuff I ...'d out, but I can't quote it all. Read the whole thing.

Posted by: Ace at 09:05 AM


1 I forget... is Obama from Kenya or Zimbabwe?

Posted by: TexasJew at January 04, 2010 09:08 AM (3Uz3f)

2 Rewarding the irresponsible on the backs of the responsible. Why am I not surprised?

Posted by: Insomniac at January 04, 2010 09:13 AM (v+QvA)

3 Well it's bad that he is bankrolling them with our money, but uh.....No it's bad. It's all bad.

Posted by: The Lawyer from Anger Management at January 04, 2010 09:14 AM (SqAkN)

4 I guess you guys are planning on Yankee swap for your secret Santa gifts.

Posted by: andycanuck at January 04, 2010 09:17 AM (2qU2d)

5 Well, McCain told us that "we have nothing to fear from Obama", so I sentone of theseto his Senate re-election campaign:

Posted by: TexasJew at January 04, 2010 09:18 AM (3Uz3f)

6 This is just one more technique in Obama's (pbuh) carefully thought out plan to change the character of the country. When far fewer people feel any responsibility for their homes, but feel as if the government has given them a place to live, what will our cities and towns look like? The Robert Taylor projects?

Posted by: NJConservative at January 04, 2010 09:18 AM (/Ywwg)

7 This must be part of the two steps back that will make us all happier soon, even though it may not seem that way right now.

How long must we wait? For the happy part I mean.

Sounds like the Progs should be writing country music.

Posted by: dr kill at January 04, 2010 09:19 AM (tGYpf)

8 The government wants taxpayers to think that these are profit-seeking companies being nursed back to health, like AIG. But at least AIG is trying to make money. Fan and Fred are now designed to lose money, transferring wealth from renters and homeowners to overextended borrowers.
Who will then go andeven borrow some more. I wonder if the next housing bubble (if there's any) will inflate and fall even quicker than the last one.
At least in the end, there will be only chaos.

Posted by: Kratos (on the back of Gaia, scaling Mt Olympus) at January 04, 2010 09:20 AM (9hSKh)

9 Anyone else remember how the Count of Monte Cristo broke his banker enemy?

I distinctly recall "unlimited credit" being a central aspect.

Posted by: Techie at January 04, 2010 09:21 AM (zbH+i)

10 Which are they guilty of; #1,conspiracy to defraud or #2, stupidity? We have to with #1 because stupid people are too dumb to try to hide their misdeeds.

Posted by: arnonerik at January 04, 2010 09:21 AM (mmI0p)

11 This is like watching a gambler lose all his money, max out his credit cards, and then start hitting up his friends for money hoping to turn it all around. Yeah I am sure if we give em another 400 billion everything will work out great. I hope they put it all on red, seems to me that is all this administration is doing anyway.

Posted by: Mr. Pink at January 04, 2010 09:24 AM (SqAkN)


O/T: According to this morning's Fox Friends an even bigger Acorn scandal is about to break.


The government shouldn't reward liars. But that's the effect of changes to the Obama administration's failing program to help homeowners modify their mortgages.Until recently the rules were clear: if you grossly understated your income to qualify for the program, you had to restart the loan modification process..... The program isn't working like it's supposed to..... How's the government responding? By letting homeowners who fudge their income numbers off the hook with little more than a wink and a nod.
H/T NewsBusters

Posted by: Tinian at January 04, 2010 09:26 AM (7+pP9)

13 Someone please tell me why I continue to be responsible and play by the rules? There seems to be less and less of a future in it.

Posted by: sixpckr at January 04, 2010 09:26 AM (Aw7Iv)

14 It's interesting that, with the multimiilion dollar cash bonuses that they just gave the heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (sort of a "thank you" for losing the taxpayers many billions of dollars, I suppose), there was NOT ONE SINGLE SHARE OF STOCK in the bonuses - something that you would never see in firms in the private sector.
Wanna bet they know something about how worthless their propped-up stocks are?
So I suppose that it's OK for the "Wage Czar" to beat the banks over the head for their compensation packages, but not these politically-connected clowns...

Posted by: TexasJew at January 04, 2010 09:26 AM (3Uz3f)

15 Scumbags, and when they get voted out, the new ones trying to get in (Democraps) will blame the Republicant's. It's a vicious cycle. They all suck, well most do anyway.

Posted by: assclownspotter at January 04, 2010 09:27 AM (MmF0K)

16 And here I thought the Constitution granted control of the purse strings to the Congress.

I stand corrected.

Posted by: Vet Missing Parts at January 04, 2010 09:28 AM (MCHyX)

17 This and the ongoing unbelievable use of earmarks, should be all of the proof necessary to anyone with even rudimentary comprehension skills to see that politicians in this country have only one thing in mind - to promote their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those to whom they are beholdenon the backs of an ambivalent,intellectually lazyAmerican publicby raising taxes - for whatever reason they can imagine. And this goes for politicians of both parties. There is no proof in what they have done over that last several years that they are the least bit concerned with the continued viability of this country as 1) a beacon to the rest of the world for freedom, or 2) a superpower for good in the world. Some of them are quite open about their belief that America needs to be taken down a notch - or more. Imagine what good the despots of the world will do in America's absense as a check on evil. What utterly amazes me is that no Republican is willing to step up onto the totally empty stage of leadership to forcefully oppose this suicide by political self interest.
To say that we are screwed would seem to me the understatement of our times.

Posted by: Hussein the Plumber at January 04, 2010 09:29 AM (RkRxq)

18 Constitution? That old thing?

Posted by: sixpckr at January 04, 2010 09:30 AM (Aw7Iv)

19 They get away with this crap because your average citizen has his head up his ass.

This shell game is going on right under our noses ... all you have to do is be willing to READ a little bit to understand what's going on ... but people just can't be bothered.

Finance is HARD. Ohhhh ... all those numbers 'n ratios 'n shit.

What's on TV?

Look, I'm just an average every day dumbass and I get it. You don't have to be a genius to understand the basics of finance, accounting, macroeconomics, the stock market ... etc.

But you do have to be willing to read and ask questions.

Most people aren't willing. Most people don't even know what's in their 401K (or why they hold it) much less have any interest or knowledge about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

And because of this, we get fucked repeatedly by the unholy Wall St/Big Government alliance.

Collectively, it's our own damned fault for choosing to be ignorant, frivolous and lazy.

Posted by: Warden at January 04, 2010 09:32 AM (lEqfY)

20 Same song; different verse - the massive government (read US) bailout of AIG is still on the verge of becoming a total LOSS. BUT, AIG still owns one of the largest ski areas in the country - the Mt. Mansfield Corporation in Stowe, Vermont. That's a throwback to the Hank Greenburg days (Hank lived in Stowe and needed a place to ski so he bought - with AIG funds, of course - the ski area that was right in his back yard.

No surprise; the ski area is a loser, too....which means WE are subsidizing a ski area because AIG can't sell it!!

Fanny, Freddie and AIG - all "too big to fail".

Posted by: Dell at January 04, 2010 09:32 AM (PFMmF)

21 My, Ace. You're up early today.

Posted by: Good Lt. at January 04, 2010 09:34 AM (jH17H)

22 19 - Warden
Agreed. We are the frog in the pot. Our politicians are slowly raising the heat but before we realize we're dead, they will have gotten theirs.

Posted by: Hussein the Plumber at January 04, 2010 09:35 AM (RkRxq)

23 Yes unlimited bailout at the behest of Bwarney Fwank (he is the one pushing this crap). So congress only authorized 200 billion but they are going to give much more than that because FF are “too big to fail”. Congress is pushing to break up the other big banks so this would not happen. Our old friend McLame is even jumping on that bandwagon. When are we going to push for FF to be broken up.

Actually what we should be doing is allowing them ALL to fail. Just wait on it folks. GM and Chrysler (or should I say the UAW) will be back with their hands out next. All should watch the video from the sidebar story:

49 years of liberal control = DetroitDetroit! Starring in "Life After People"[ArthurK]

ALL should watch this video. It is long but it hits the nail on the head. The main point is 50 years of LBJ “Model Cities” program has destroyed the city. It is now one of the worst festering puss filled eyesores in the world. Now Il Douche is trying to do the same damn thing with the rest of the country.

That is where the entire country is headed. If we had a Republican president and he was sidestepping congress’s set limits on bailouts they would be drawing up the impeachment resolutions in the House already AND the Republicans would be helping.

Not so with the Communists with a D after their name.

Posted by: Vic at January 04, 2010 09:36 AM (QrA9E)

24 Just one part of the plan in the destruction of America, distribution of wealth, and total takeover of thefederal government. It's not rocket science. Get in line everyone, for everything.

Posted by: Sparky at January 04, 2010 09:37 AM (mXY2a)

25 Looks like Barney Frank wants to give out a gift as well, in H.R. 4173, ‘‘The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009’’.

Instead, it supports the biggest banks. It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for “no-more-bailouts” talk. That is more than twice what the Fed pumped into markets this time around. The size of the fund makes the bribes in the Senate’s health-care bill look minuscule.

Posted by: Neo at January 04, 2010 09:39 AM (tE8FB)

26 We haven't heard much lately about the Dem's plan to get out of all of this 'debt' thingy.

They floated a plan once to privatize ALL of EVERYONE's 401K plans, and private retirement plans.

Think about it, they know where all of it is because it has special rules associated with it. And they now have MAJOR inroads to the banks and financial institutions ... lets them do things on the sly that they would never be able to do otherwise.

It's bad enough that I'm thinking of taking the penalty on my meager 401K while the taxes and penalties are low.

Buy gold and silver. Small denominations, you don't want to pay for a loaf of bread in a collapsed economy with a krugerrand. And lots of ammo.

Posted by: Mephitis at January 04, 2010 09:41 AM (ehXLT)

27 I'd like to get up once....just once....in the morning and read something good that's happening to my country and her future.

Posted by: Twinks at January 04, 2010 09:41 AM (LeFbD)

We all know this was all caused by the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.

Now where's my dice?

Posted by: Bawny Fwank at January 04, 2010 09:41 AM (7+pP9)

29 It's just so damned frustrating. I try to point this stuff out to people and they just yawn.

I post links to articles like this one on Facebook and get no response.

Hardly anyone cares about protecting their wealth from the government. Is it any wonder they're so successful and stealing it from us?

I'm trying not to be pessimistic, I think people have turned the corner on understanding what a jackass Obama is, but they really don't get how much damage he's already done.

I think we're going to get a radical shift in the political landscape, but will people have enough knowledge and passion to force a reversal of these policies?

I don't know if it can be done.

Posted by: Warden at January 04, 2010 09:42 AM (lEqfY)

30 So the taxpayer should remain beholden to this runaway government or its increasingly absurd laws and obligations why exactly?

Posted by: AnonymousDrivel at January 04, 2010 09:43 AM (50S+L)

31 By the way, the privatization of all of the retirement plans and 401k stuff may get to sound pretty good to the average guy on the street.

We, the government will take all of the money that your company pays for health care and retirement, then we, the Government will take over those responsibilities. We'll guarantee your retirement too, you just throw your money into the pot, and you'll get it back incrementally.

And by the way, there will be no choice. We already took your money from your account, so be happy. And vote Democrat!!

Posted by: Mephitis at January 04, 2010 09:46 AM (ehXLT)

32 My, Ace. You're up early today.
Or up late.

Posted by: andycanuck at January 04, 2010 09:47 AM (2qU2d)

33 The vicious circle just continues. Fannie and Freddie make crappy loans to people with zero chance of repaying them. Government gives them more money. Then the government decides we need more crappy loans. So, Fannie and Freddie make more crappy loans...ad neseaum, ad neseaum,

Posted by: Mallamutt at January 04, 2010 09:48 AM (V9SYy)

34 Or up late.

I figured I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. New year and all that :-)

Posted by: Good Lt. at January 04, 2010 09:48 AM (jH17H)

35 I read that this a.m. too. One of the things I found galling (well, there were so many), but one thing was this quote:
"Freddie also has one of the world's highest-paid human resources executives. Paul George's totalcompensation can run up to $2.7 million. It must require a set of skills to spot executives capable of losing billions of dollars."

Posted by: runningrn at January 04, 2010 09:51 AM (CfmlF)

36 33 -- what better way to eventually break everyone and have them living in government housing??

Posted by: unknown jane at January 04, 2010 09:52 AM (5/yRG)

37 "Freddie also has one of the world's highest-paid human resources executives. Paul George's totalcompensation can run up to $2.7 million.It must require a set of skills to spot executives capable of losing billions of dollars."
To be fair, runningrn, he's also recruiting future cabinet secretaries too.
[And LOL, Good Lt.]

Posted by: andycanuck at January 04, 2010 09:54 AM (2qU2d)

38 As a financial trader, this is pretty scary. Alt-A and Subprime loans were ONE of the catalysts that got us into this mess.

Secondly, who knew you could make 6M a year running a federal bureaucracy? No problem with paying them either according to the the Pay Czar-since they work for the government and not a private bank.

Posted by: jeff at January 04, 2010 10:11 AM (t6tby)

39 38 As a financial trader, this is pretty scary. Alt-A and Subprime loans were ONE of the catalysts that got us into this mess.
Yup, if you thought the first financial meltdown was bad, wait til you see the sequel: "Fannie and Fweddie, Pawt deux: Wolling The Dice, Just One Mowe Time."

Posted by: Bawney Fwank at January 04, 2010 10:18 AM (CfmlF)

40 Yup, if you thought the first financial meltdown was bad, wait til you see the sequel: "Fannie and Fweddie, Pawt deux: Wolling The Dice, Just One Mowe Time."
Next on the "too big to fail" menu is the United States. These assholes have already been warned by both Moody's and China. Moody's will pull the plug soon.

Posted by: Vic at January 04, 2010 10:20 AM (QrA9E)

41 Guess who owns tons of these bonds? China.

They buy them as part of a sterilization to keep their own currency weak to help their export industries.

Because they buy these bonds instead of conducting normal trade, where you know, you TRADE stuff not ship product and buy paper, interest rates are/were lower than they should be. That helped the housing bubble keep inflated.

You know, I think they should pay a price for their system of maintaining a weak currency. How about facing some losses on their bond holdings?

(p.s. this should apply to all bond holders not just China...why are they so special?)

Posted by: sexypig at January 04, 2010 10:43 AM (0t7L8)

42 Oh, and in China, if an American firm has a contract with a Chinese firm, or they sold them futures, often the contract is simply broken.

Fair is fair.

I am not even jingoistic about this stuff - its really unhealthy co-dependency on both China and ourselves to keep this up.

Posted by: sexypig at January 04, 2010 10:46 AM (0t7L8)

43 Where does the authority to do this kind of shenanigans come from?

Posted by: toby928 at January 04, 2010 11:01 AM (PD1tk)

44 When all this broke, I thought we should have just paid for the bad loans that were made, and be done with it. We broke, we fix it, just seemed reasonable.

But now we have to keep giving these loans out, and expand the programs? Keep throwing money down this rathole? It just keeps getting more and more expensive, because we just can't quit spending money.

No matter what party it is, if one of them promises to quit spending, and get these programs under control, they will win big. No other sector of American life needs to be put on the platform. I swear, they can promise to invade other countries willy nilly, plunder the profits to pay for it, and fund abortions out of the remaining proceeds, and people would vote for it. This financial mess is more pressing than anything else on the plate right now.

I realize the above example is far fetched. But something close is not. All we have to do is be responsible with money, and everything else will fall into place.

Posted by: Jay in Ames at January 04, 2010 11:02 AM (UEEex)

45 44, yes, indeed!
Shouldn't congress get involved with, um, spending money?

Posted by: joeindc44 at January 04, 2010 11:04 AM (QxSug)

46 BURBERRY SCARF just $99.9
game CDKeys

Posted by: jason at January 04, 2010 11:08 AM (ihHym)

47 The country is over-leveraged. Someone has to take the haircut to fix it. Just stringing it out is the worst of all possible remedies.

Obama is the new Hoover.

Posted by: toby928 at January 04, 2010 11:13 AM (PD1tk)

48 You're all overreacting. How much can we possibly lose on a bunch of new bum mortgages for mud huts?

Posted by: Purple Avenger at January 04, 2010 11:27 AM (7zzbI)

49 Here's where I'll pretend that I wasn't the biggest Obama fan ever ... and that I'm not crushed by his total failure to live up to even the most basic competency in anything.

Posted by: erg at January 04, 2010 11:39 AM (YFV+t)

50 Posted by: Cheap Designer Handbags Sale at January 04, 2010 10:45 AM (uIuKB)
You're in the wrong business, Cheap Handbag Guy - when these commie bastards are through with us, we'll need large wheelbarrows to carry around our worthless currency

Posted by: TexasJew at January 04, 2010 11:47 AM (Uozyi)

51 He's just doing what any republican does. What are you bitching about, ace?
Posted by: Martha Stewart at January 04, 2010 11:39 AM (YFV+t)
I've had better dogs than you euthanized.

Posted by: TexasJew at January 04, 2010 11:48 AM (Uozyi)

52 He's just doing what any republican does. What are you bitching about, ace?

Take your socialist crap, and go away. Real Republicans don't want the government in the way. If any republican is taking money from workers and giving it to wealthy people, then they aren't republicans, just plain thieves.

What you are describing is the "free market". People give their money to others in return for a product or service. Wealthy people usually are pretty good at their job, which translates into more people wanting what they have to offer.

Come up with an idea, and market it. You too can be wealthy.

Posted by: Jay in Ames at January 04, 2010 11:51 AM (UEEex)

53 and erg's got nuthin'

Posted by: situation normal at January 04, 2010 11:56 AM (PD1tk)

54 Don't forget the POTUS has somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million unearned dollars invested somewhere. He doesn't know 'wink, wink' where the blind trust is, he's simply protected the average Joe 'wink, wink'. Not a bad sum for someone who never held a job but had his hands in 'government' grants in Chicago.

Posted by: Scrapiron at January 04, 2010 11:57 AM (1kwr2)

55 My Messiah is in power and I'm still so very, very angry. Why is that?

Posted by: erg at January 04, 2010 12:01 PM (YFV+t)

56 The universe of things that erg knows nothing about is as boundless as his vocabulary is limited.

Posted by: situation normal at January 04, 2010 12:04 PM (PD1tk)

57 Finance capitalists like Rahm Emanuel?
You're doin' a fine job, ergie!

Posted by: spongeworthy at January 04, 2010 12:05 PM (rplL3)

58 I get paid to surf the internet and yet ... I'm pissed off and dissatisfied.

Strange, I know.

Posted by: erg at January 04, 2010 12:05 PM (YFV+t)

59 there's no government oversight...
Tired and endlessly discredited meme. Last year's debunked talking point lame-ass defense of polesmoking Barney.

Posted by: spongeworthy at January 04, 2010 12:08 PM (rplL3)

60 erg's ready to roll the dice with barney

Posted by: toby928 at January 04, 2010 12:09 PM (PD1tk)

61 Posting "daddy dicksucker" anonymously on a blog is the highlight of my day.

I define "pathetic coward."

Posted by: erg at January 04, 2010 12:12 PM (YFV+t)

62 January 4th 2007: The day Pelosi became Speaker of the Democratically controlled 110th Congress

DJIA end of session: 12,800.18
National unemployment rate for December 2006: 4.5%
2006 Federal Budget Deficit: $247.7 billion
Average GDP growth for 2006: 3.4%
Median Home Value in December 2006: $244,700 August 2009 $177,500
Average price for Regular Unleaded Gasoline December 2006: $2.30
Federal Debt as % of GDP 2006: 64.55 2008: 70.00 2009(projected): 90.36
Nonfarm employment in thousands Dec 2006: 137,000 September 2009: 130,947

Posted by: any excuse to remind the sleeping and yes, its time for the latest figures at January 04, 2010 12:13 PM (PD1tk)

63 Actually, "unlimited bailout money" isn't mathy at all. The American people can understand infinity pretty well.

Posted by: AmishDude at January 04, 2010 12:13 PM (Vo2Ef)

64 Are you better off than you were four years ago?

Vote Republican: We Suck Less

Posted by: its not much of slogan but these are desperate times at January 04, 2010 12:16 PM (PD1tk)

65 Default.

Posted by: Rodent Liberation Front at January 04, 2010 01:11 PM (dQdrY)

66 The average person won't give a crap about this stuff until the knife twists in his guts. It's like the coming power shortages due to no new power plants and the aging grid. No one gives a crap now, but they'll be bleating when the brownouts and rolling blackouts begin. But by then any solution will take 5 to 15 years to implement. In the meantime they'll freeze in the dark.
Perhaps the conditions will produce a few more conservatives.

Posted by: Nemo from Erewhon at January 04, 2010 08:39 PM (7+r4B)

67 I hope santa was extera busy bringing coal to all those politicians and especialy to OBAMA the largest lump of coal ever

Posted by: Spurwing Plover at January 04, 2010 11:27 PM (nfDCp)

68 .........................................................................................








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