Freddie Seeks Treasury Aid, Fannie Cuts Jobs; Ginnie Bucks Trend?

Government-sponsored entity Freddie Mac (FRE) on Friday filed a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission acknowledging the Federal Housing Finance Agency, acting as Freddie’s conservator, will soon request an additional $30 to $35 billion from the Treasury Department under the $100 billion senior preferred stock purchase agreement, through which the Treasury is required to provide funds whenever Freddie reports a negative net worth. Freddie drew $13.8 billion under the agreement when it reported weak third-quarter results in November, suggesting a trend of increasingly great financial need. On the same day Freddie’s filing hinted at growing federal need, reports came out of Fannie Mae (FNM) that the banking giant cut hundreds of local jobs from its Washington headquarters even as it added staff “elsewhere” to manage an influx of defaults and foreclosure threats, according to a report published Friday by Bloomberg. Fannie similarly faces the conservatorship by the government, and participation with the other GSEs in the Federal Reserve‘s agency mortgage-backed security purchasing program. The only agency appearing to report growth while the others struggle with cutbacks and funds shortages is Ginnie Mae, which has touted issuance that surpassed both Fannie and Freddie in the latter months of 2008. Ginnie has been reported in discussions with President Obama for an increase in staff to help manage the influx in mortgage-backed securities issuance. Ginnie’s president, Joseph Murin, told American Banker last week the company is seeking 30 full-time staffers to supplement the 61 individuals currently employed — a 50 percent increase in staff. With the wealth of evidence supporting Ginnie’s growth, it seems unlikely it would be the agency with the smallest presence on the Fed’s book of MBS purchases. According to data published Friday by the Fed, Ginnie has received the promise of $4.25 billion in MBS purchases so far through the program, while Fannie and Freddie enjoy $20.2 billion and $28.17 billion, respectively. It’s unclear now whether the Fed’s purchases — not all of which have completed — demonstrate Ginnie’s ability to operate without government funds. With more than $447 billion left in its MBS purchase program, the Fed’s spending actions going forward are likely to reflect which agency bears the greatest need. Write to Diana Golobay at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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