Federal National Mortgage Association

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The United States Federal Government created the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) Template:Nyse, commonly known as Fannie Mae, in 1938 to establish a secondary market for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Fannie Mae buys mortgages on the secondary market, pools them and sells them as mortgage-backed securities to investors on the open market. This secondary mortgage market helps to replenish the supply of lendable money for mortgages and ensures that money continues to be available for new home purchases.



In 1968, the Federal National Mortgage Association was partitioned into two separate entities—one wholly owned by the government and known as the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), and the other to retain the name Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae). At this time Fannie Mae expanded its charter to buying other sorts of mortgages besides the government insured ones it had traditionally purchased.


Fannie Mae is a consistently profitable American corporation. While it receives no direct government funding or backing it has certain looser restrictions placed on its activities than normal financial institutions. For example, it is allowed to sell mortgage backed securities with half the capital backing them up than is required by other financial institutions. Critics, including Alan Greenspan, say that this is only allowed because investors seem to think that there is a hidden, or implied, guarantee to the bonds that Fannie Mae sells ([1] (http://www.federalreserve.gov/boarddocs/testimony/2004/20040224/default.htm)). Although the company describes them as having no guarantee, nevertheless the vast majority of investors believe that the Government would prevent them from defaulting on their debt, and so buy bonds that are very low interest rates compared to the risk.

The largest mortgage originator in the United States is Countrywide Financial, it's an almost exclusive Fannie Mae partner, though they have sold small amounts to GSE competitors. Their "loan production" during 2003 was $434.9 billion, of which most was sold to Fannie Mae.

Why don't the originators securitize and sell the mortgages themselves? As mentioned the GSEs can leverage their balance sheet more. And the GSEs get lower rates on both assets and liabilities. And many originators may not be big enough to be able to package and sell mortgages successfully.

Conforming loans

Because of its stake in the mortgage market and because of its history, Fannie Mae (along with Freddie Mac) sets the limit each year on the size of a conforming loan based on the October to October changes in mean home price, above which a mortgage is considered a jumbo loan, and has higher rates associated with it. This is because both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac only buy loans that are conforming, to repackage into the secondary market, making the demand for non-conforming loans much less. By virtue of the laws of supply and demand, then, it is harder for lenders to sell the loans, thus it would cost more to the consumers (typically 1/4 to 1/2 of a percent.) The conforming loan limit is 50 percent higher in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the US Virgin Islands.


FNMA is a financial corporation which uses derivative securities to "hedge" their cash flow. Derivative products they use include interest rate swaps and options to enter interest rate swaps ("pay-fixed swaps", "receive-fixed swaps", "basis swaps", "caps and swaptions, "forward starting swaps"). Here's a guide through some of its financials and accounting.

"transfer negative numbers to its balance sheet under "accumulated other comprehensive income," or AOCI." (Page 123 - "Balance Sheets" - "Stockholders? Equity" - "Accumulated other comprehensive loss") ([2] (http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=108360&p=irol-SECText&TEXT=aHR0cDovL2NjYm4uMTBrd2l6YXJkLmNvbS94bWwvZmlsaW5nLnhtbD9yZXBvPXRlbmsmaXBhZ2U9MjY3MDAzNiZkb2M9MSZudW09MTI2))

"2002 earnings of $6.4 billion would have been overwhelmed by $8.9 billion in cash-flow hedging losses." (Page 124 - "Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (Loss)" - "Net cash flow hedging losses on derivatives hedging debt")

"$3 billion in losses that were recognized in 2002-2003" (Page 122 - "Statements of Income" - "Other expenses" - "Debt extinguishments, net")

"$19 billion paid to settle underwater interest-rate swaps in those years." (Page 125 - "Cash-Flows" - "Cash flows from (used in) financing activities" - "Net payments to purchase or settle hedge instruments")

"interest rate swaps on its books rose from $23 billion in 2002 to $149 billion in 2003." (Page 79 - Table 30 "Cash flow hedges" - "Receive-fixed swaps")

"exclude its AOCI numbers from the calculations of capital" (Page 158 - "Core capital" is "Stockholders' Equity" excluding AOCI)

Duration gap

Main aricle: duration gap

"The company said that in April its average duration gap widened to plus 3 months in April from zero in March." "The Washington-based company aims to keep its duration gap between minus 6 months to plus 6 months. From September 2003 to March, the gap has run between plus to minus one month."

  • 17-May-04 8-K Regulation FD Disclosure (http://yahoo.brand.edgar-online.com/doctrans/finSys_main.asp?formfilename=0000950133-04-002052&x=14&y=12)
  • Effective Duration Gap (months)
    • July 2003: 6
    • April 2004: 3

"last summer's 5-month ?duration mismatch? cost Fannie nearly a year of earnings."

Accounting scandal

As of late 2004, Fannie Mae is under investigation for its accounting practices. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (http://www.ofheo.gov/) released this September 17, 2004 report (http://www.ofheo.gov/media/pdf/FNMfindingstodate17sept04.pdf) alleging widespread accounting errors, including shifting of losses so senior executives could earn bonuses from making earnings targets. The difficulty centered around how to account for various interest rate hedges Fannie Mae buys as part of its risk management strategy. When Fannie Mae did not release its third quarter results for 2004, doubts increased.

Supporters of the company, including senior management, said the problem was merely a disagreement over FASB accounting standards, but in December, the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled that Fannie Mae would have to restate the past 3 1/2 years of earnings, potentially losing $9 billion of earnings over that timeframe, and possibly necessitating increased capitalization.

This has not yet impacted the stock price for Fannie Mae, but Moody's and Standard and Poor's have downgraded some of Fannie Mae's subordinate debt. Given the large percentage of the American economy that is tied up in housing values, a major scandal involving Fannie Mae could be highly damaging to investor confidence. However, Freddie Mac was able to overcome its summer 2003 scandal without serious damage.

On December 21, 2004, CEO Franklin Raines and CFO Timothy Howard were forced to resign. The company also dismissed its auditor, KPMG.

In testimony given to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee (http://banking.senate.gov/) April 19-21, 2005, it became clear that Congress, with support from all the parties, was planning to strengthen oversight of all the GSEs. A contentious issue in the second quarter of 2005 was whether the retained portfolios of Fannie and Freddie should be reduced. This issue became prominent after an April 26, 2005 AEI symposium (http://www.aei.org/events/eventID.1041/event_detail.asp), and continued to gain ground leading up to Alan Greenspan's major May 19, 2005 speech (http://www.federalreserve.gov/BoardDocs/Speeches/2005/20050519/default.htm) recommending strict portfolio limits.



Conference calls

  • July 21, 2004 - 2nd Quarter 2004 (presentation (http://www.fanniemae.com/ir/earnings/index.jhtml?s=Quarterly+Reports+%26amp;++Earnings)) (audio (http://web.servicebureau.net/conf/meta?i=1112471593&c=2343&m=was&u=/w_ccbn.xsl&date_ticker=7_21_2004_FNM))


Fannie Mae received a 71% rating in the 2004 Corporate Equality Index by the Human Rights Campaign. Additionally, the company gave a $50,000 grant to the anti-GLBT organization Traditional Values Coalition in 2001 to "to train church leaders to provide homeownership education in the Greater Los Angeles area."

Fannie Mae was named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers in 2004 by Working Mothers magazine.

See also



External links




The links below are highly critical views on U.S. national mortgage policy. (Wikipedia:POV)


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