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Fannie Mae Breaks Its 14 Quarter Bailout Streak

Anthony Randazzo
May 11, 2012, 12:02pm

Fannie Mae performed a magic trick this past quarter: they made a net profit including their dividend payment to Treasury for the first time since the fall of 2008 when they were taken into conservatorship. This week, Fannie Mae's 1Q 2012 earnings statement was actually an earnings statement. They posted a $2.7 billion profit, and were able to make a $2.8 billion payment to Treasury, covering the balance of the payment with a few hundred million built up in positive net worth, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Last year, Fannie Mae lost a net of $16.4 billion. With the $0 loss figure through the first quarter of 2012, that means the updated complete taxpayer bailout total (3Q2008 to 1Q2012) for Fannie Mae remains:

$116.2 billion

So while a few kudos are in order for not having to go hat in hand to taxpayers for a 14th straight quarter, Fannie Mae is far from being out of the woods. Of that $116.2 billion bailout given to Fannie Mae, $22.6 billion has been paid back, leaving a remaining balance of $93.6 billion.  

There were a few different reasons that Fannie was able to turn a profit. The WSJ reports:

Part of the profit is due to gains that resulted from an upswing in interest rates earlier in the year, according to Jim Vogel of FTN Financial. He pegs the contribution to profit at around $1 billion. With rates having retreated recently, this could reverse in the current quarter.

Another factor was an improvement in credit quality leading Fannie to set aside less money to cover souring mortgages. That the company needed $2 billion in provisions for credit losses, compared with $10.5 billion a year earlier, is positive. It shows Fannie's losses are growing at a slower rate, while profit from more recent, better-quality loans should bolster results going forward.

Fannie also said the serious delinquency rate for single-family mortgages declined to 3.67% in the first quarter from 5.47% a year earlier. A slower rate of home-price declines has helped on this front. 

The challenge for the future is that the Fed is promising continued low interest rates for the coming years, and there are million of homes that will be foreclosed on in the coming years as well. Losses will likely slow, but continue to mount in coming quarters. 

Freddie Mac also had a relatively good quarter, asking for "just" $19 million to cover losses from the first three months of the year. The combined total taxpayer bailout from 3Q2008 to 1Q2012 for Fannie and Freddie is now:

$71.365 billion (Freddie) + $116.2 billion (Fannie) = $187.565 billion

Here is an updated list of Fannie Mae's quarter bailout needs:

See last quarter's post on Fannie Mae's losses here.

See full coverage of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac here


Anthony Randazzo is Director of Economic Research


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