Don’t blame global stock markets for being skittish. It is August, after all, a month that has spelled trouble in the past two years.
from Rolfe Winkler:
Late yesterday Freddie Mac surprised markets by reporting a profit and by not requesting additional bailout money from Treasury. Before we celebrate, however, let's consider a few revealing footnotes from the company's quarterly filing. But first, some key financial ratios.
Freddie Mac reports that it managed an actual net income gain in second quarter of $768 billion – a big turnaround from the $9.9 billion loss in the prior quarter. That means Treasury is off the hook, at least in this quarter, in terms of giving Freddie more money through its $200 bln equity line.
Fannie and Freddie’s regulator-in-chief James Lockhart is stepping down to spend more time with his family, Reuters reports. Can’t say I blame him. He’s been at the helm of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, formerly known as OFHEO, for three years, saw through an unprecedented de facto nationalization of the companies, and still the future of the housing finance giants remains nearly as uncertain as it did a year ago.
OK, it’s not a majority owner, but the government has an impressive stake in the $4.5 trillion agency mortgage-backed securities market. Barclays Capital’s last count, as of July 3, puts Federal Reserve purchases at $621.6 billion since it launched the program in January. Separately, the Treasury Department has picked up more than $145 billion since the government put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in receivership in September. The Treasury data is through the end of May.