The U.S. Department of the Treasury has announced a set of modifications to the Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements (PSPAs) between the Treasury Department and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) as conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs)—that will help expedite the wind down of the GSEs, make sure that every dollar of earnings each firm generates is used to benefit taxpayers, and support the continued flow of mortgage credit during a responsible transition to a reformed housing finance market.
“With today’s announcement, we are taking the next step toward responsibly winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while continuing to support the necessary process of repair and recovery in the housing market,” said Michael Stegman, counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury for Housing Finance Policy. “As we continue to work toward bi-partisan housing finance reform, we are committed to putting in place measures right now that support continued access to mortgage credit for American families, promote a responsible transition, and protect taxpayer interests.”
The modifications to the PSPAs announced are consistent with FHFA’s strategic plan for the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that it released in February 2012.
“These changes provide certainty to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and market participants as they continue to perform their critical mission of providing liquidity and stability to the country’s housing market," said FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco. "The steps today are also important as Congress and policymakers contemplate the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."
The modifications include the following key components:
►Accelerated wind down of the retained mortgage investment portfolios at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: The agreements require an accelerated reduction of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s investment portfolios. Those portfolios will now be wound down at an annual rate of 15 percent—an increase from the 10 percent annual reduction required in the previous agreements. As a result of this change, the GSEs’ investment portfolios must be reduced to the $250 billion target set in the previous agreements four years earlier than previously scheduled.
►Annual taxpayer protection plan: To support a thoughtfully managed wind down, the agreements require that on an annual basis, each GSE will—under the direction of their conservator, the FHFA—submit a plan to Treasury on its actions to reduce taxpayer exposure to mortgage credit risk for both its guarantee book of business and retained investment portfolio.
►Full income sweep of all future GSE earnings to benefit taxpayers for their investment: The agreements will replace the 10 percent dividend payments made to Treasury on its preferred stock investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a quarterly sweep of every dollar of profit that each firm earns going forward. This will help achieve several important objectives, including: Making sure that every dollar of earnings that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac generate will be used to benefit taxpayers for their investment in those firms; ending the circular practice of the Treasury advancing funds to the GSEs simply to pay dividends back to Treasury; acting upon the commitment made in the Administration’s 2011 White Paper that the GSEs will be wound down and will not be allowed to retain profits, rebuild capital, and return to the market in their prior form; supporting the continued flow of mortgage credit by providing borrowers, market participants, and taxpayers with additional confidence in the ability of the GSEs to meet their commitments while operating under conservatorship; and providing greater market certainty regarding the financial strength of the GSEs.
“Today’s announcement is a clear and appropriate effort to limit taxpayer exposure resulting from the federal government’s investment in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," said David H. Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). "We support efforts to protect the taxpayers, but want to emphasize the importance of ensuring continued liquidity that will provide the affordable mortgage financing necessary to support the housing market. It is critical that the transition of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s role in financing real estate does not limit the availability, or increase the cost, of financing."