Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation- Freddie Mac

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), known as Freddie Mac (OTCBB: FMCC), is a public government sponsored enterprise (GSE), headquartered in the Tyson's Corner CDP in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia.

The FHLMC was created in 1970 to expand the secondary market for mortgages in the US. Along with other GSEs, Freddie Mac buys mortgages on the secondary market, pools them, and sells them as a mortgage-backed security to investors on the open market. This secondary mortgage market increases the supply of money available for mortgage lending and increases the money available for new home purchases. The name, "Freddie Mac", is an acronym of the company's full name that had been adopted officially for ease of identification (see "GSEs" below for other examples).

On September 7, 2008, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) director James B. Lockhart III announced he had put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the conservatorship of the FHFA (see Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). The action has been described as "one of the most sweeping government interventions in private financial markets in decades".

Moody's gave Freddie Mac's preferred stock an investment grade rating of A1 until August 22, 2008, when Warren Buffett said publicly that both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae had tried to attract him and others. Moody's changed the credit rating on that day to Baa3, the lowest investment grade credit rating. Freddie's senior debt credit rating remains Aaa/AAA from each of the major ratings agencies Moody's, S&P, and Fitch.

As of the start of the conservatorship, the United States Department of the Treasury had contracted to acquire US$1 billion in Freddie Mac senior preferred stock, paying at a rate of 10% per year, and the total investment may subsequently rise to as much as US$100 billion.

Home loan interest rates may go down as a result and owners of Freddie Mac debt and the Asian central banks who had increased their holdings in these bonds may be protected. Shares of Freddie Mac stock, however, plummeted to about one U.S. dollar on September 8, 2008, and dropped a further 50% on June 16, 2010, when the Federal Housing Finance Agency ordered the stocks delisted. In 2008, the yield on U.S Treasury securities rose in anticipation of increased U.S. federal debt.

From 1938 to 1968, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) was the sole institution that bought mortgages from depository institutions, principally savings and loan associations, which encouraged more mortgage lending and effectively insured the value of mortgages by the US government. In 1968, Fannie Mae split into a private corporation and a publicly financed institution. The private corporation was still called Fannie Mae and its charter continued to support the purchase of mortgages from savings and loan associations and other depository institutions, but without an explicit insurance policy that guaranteed the value of the mortgages. The publicly financed institution was named the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae) and it explicitly guaranteed the repayments of securities backed by mortgages made to government employees or veterans (the mortgages themselves were also guaranteed by other government organizations). To provide competition for the newly private Fannie Mae and to further increase the availability of funds to finance mortgages and home ownership, Congress then established the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) as a private corporation through the Emergency Home Finance Act of 1970. The charter of Freddie Mac was essentially the same as Fannie Mae's newly private charter: to expand the secondary market for mortgages and mortgage backed securities by buying mortgages made by savings and loan associations and other depository institutions.

The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 ("FIRREA") revised and standardized the regulation of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Prior to this act, Freddie Mac was owned by the Federal Home Loan Bank System and governed by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, which was reorganized into the Office of Thrift Supervision by the Act. The Act severed Freddie Mac's ties to the Federal Home Loan Bank System, created an 18-member board of directors, and subjected it to oversight by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In 1995, Freddie Mac began receiving affordable housing credit for buying subprime securities, and by 2004, HUD suggested the company was lagging behind and should "do more."

Freddie Mac was put under a conservatorship of the U.S. Federal government on Sunday, September 7, 2008.

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