Did Fannie Mae Bail Out Bank of America?
Fannie Mae agreed to buy the mortgage servicing rights of a portfolio of loans from BofA, but the purchase price is unknown because absolutely no one is talking.
Early in August, Fannie Mae (read: taxpayers) agreed to buy the mortgage servicing rights (MSRs) of a portfolio of 400,000 loans with an unpaid principal balance of $73 billion from Bank of America. In exchange for these rights to collect payments from homeowners in this portfolio, Bank of America reportedly received "more than $500 million."
Strangely, the actual purchase price is unknown. So, too, are the contents of the mortgage portfolio, because neither Fannie Mae, its regulator the Federal Housing Finance Agency, nor the selling bank itself is talking.
Whatever the quality of the MSRs, though, Fannie Mae stands to lose a bundle if President Obama's national refinance program, proposed officially in his jobs speech last week, is pushed forward by the White House and Treasury. Anything that causes borrowers to refinance or prepay mortgages causes the value of MSRs to decline. A revamp of the Home Affordable Refinance Program-which has so far been a total failure-to streamline reducing interest rates would significantly reduce the value of the recently purchased MSRs overtime and possibly lead to serious losses beyond just delinquencies.
Of course, discussion of a more streamlined refinance program has been on the table for months now. Fannie Mae and its regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, knew about this possibility and went ahead with the deal anyway. Considering the lack of transparency and the possibility for millions in losses for Fannie (i.e., taxpayers) on this deal, the transaction is more than a little suspicious.
At least five or six private financial institutions were given access by Bank of America to analyze the mortgage portfolio and perform due diligence before potentially bidding on the MSRs. However, Bank of America didn't wait for even a single competing bid. Perhaps Bank of America decided that Fannie Mae's offer was far above anything it could get from the private sector. Or even worse, perhaps Bank of America knew the delinquency risks in the portfolio were so high that no private actor would want to consider acquiring such a toxic asset.
If either of these cases turned out to be true, the Fannie Mae offer amounts to nothing less than a bailout. And if the government did overpay for the MSRs, the only possible reason is that the Treasury wanted to infuse Bank of America with cash to keep it stable.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.
Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Daily Recap Newsletter