Fannie Mae

Embattled Former Fannie CEO Takes Leave Of Absence From Fortress

When we first presented the surprising news of the SEC's stunning lawsuit against former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd, we said, "Incidentally, any and all LPs of Fortress Group may want to ask themselves what else  (if anything) the current CEO of the company, who just happens to be Dan Mudd, is misrepresenting these days." Sure enough, it was only a matter of time before we got this:

  • DAN MUDD TO TAKE LEAVE OF ABSENCE AS FORTRESS CEO

Luckily, he is certainly the only legacy CEO who had been (allegedly) fraudulently misrepresenting material information. Because as we all know all the other legacy CEOs got the boot in the transition from the pre-bubble to post-bubble years. Oh wait...

Guest Post: The Corruption Of America

The numbers tell us America is in decline... if not outright collapse. I say "the numbers tell us" because I've become very sensitive to the impact this kind of statement has on people. When I warned about the impending bankruptcy of General Motors in 2006 and 2007, readers actually blamed me for the company's problems – as if my warnings to the public were the real problem, rather than GM's $400 billion in debt. The claim was absurd. But the resentment my work engendered was real. So please... before you read this issue, which makes several arresting claims about the future of our country... understand I am only writing about the facts as I find them today. I am only drawing conclusions based on the situation as it stands. I am not saying that these conditions can't improve. Or that they won't improve. The truth is, I am optimistic. I believe our country is heading into a crisis. But I also believe that... sooner or later... Americans will make the right choices and put our country back on sound footing.

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Latest from Ed Pinto, who piles on the blame the GSEs argument with some new data and analysis in The American, AEI's online magazine. This will not help the cognitive illusion being so skillfully maintained by our friends Ritholtz and Nocera, who still cannot bring themselves to admit that Wall Street runs the GSEs just like a private SIV. Lawyers and first loss exposure is the only difference.

SEC Sues Former Fannie, Freddie CEOs For Misleading Investors On Subprime Risk

So with just a 3 years delay, the SEC has finally put down the porn channel remote, and decided to do what it should have done back in 2008, which is to sue the former heads of Fannie and Freddie for "misleading investors about risky mortgages" in the case below, former Fannie CEO Daniel Mudd, who was paid $13.4 million in 2007. With MF Global telling everyone it had no European exposure as recently as September 30, this appears to be a recurrent theme. So at this pace, Corzine should expect the SEC to sue him... about 8 years after he passes away? Per Reuters: "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued three former executives at Fannie Mae and three at Freddie Mac, including former chief executives of both companies. The civil charges were filed in two separate lawsuits. The SEC said both firms have agreed to cooperate with the agency and have entered into non-prosecution agreements." Yes, your honor, we don't admit or deny that we got paid tens of millions to blow up the companies at the backbone of the American mortgage industry by lying what we were investing in, but we will cooperate... We promise. In the meantime, we won't hold our breath for the SEC to clawback even one cent from Mudd in this purely theatrical spectacle, of which we will see many more as the US enters election year. Incidentally, any and all LPs of Fortress Group may want to ask themselves what else  (if anyhting) the current CEO of the company, who just happens to be Dan Mudd, is misrepresenting these days.

Guest Post: If Being Totally, Disastrously Wrong Were a Virtue, Bernanke and His Fed Mates Should Be Sainted

Since the market isn't able to price real estate, risk or credit transparently, then prudent investors would be forced to shun the market: how can you invest wisely when assets, debt and risk can't be priced by the market? Prudent lenders would withdraw from such a rigged, risky market, which is precisely what has happened. Literally 99% of the mortgage market is now guaranteed by the Federal fiefdoms, all of which are losing tens of billions of dollars and require monumental taxpayer bailouts to keep underwriting the banking sectors' private profits. The only way to restore trust and clear the market of uncollectable debt is to let the market transparently price, risk and credit--precisely what the Fed's policies are designed to stop. The Fed's knees are chafed from kow-towing to their banker masters, and worshipping the "magic" of their Keynesian Cargo Cult and Lenin ("destroying capitalism from within" should be stenciled on the Fed letterhead). Separate risk from gain, obliterate transparency and choke the market with zero interest rates, and you've not only destroyed capitalism, you've also destroyed the economy by rewarding the most venal, corrupt, fraudulent and capital-destroying players while stranding the prudent on an island of opacity where the true price of assets, credit and risk cannot be discovered.

Guest Post: Headwinds For Housing

It’s no secret that housing and employment are correlated, and the causation is intuitive. If more people have jobs, then more people have incomes that support the purchase of a home. In the other direction, the more houses that are built to meet rising demand, the more jobs will be created in construction and real estate. We can see the correlation in this chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve displaying one measure of employment for workers age 45-54 and the index of home prices. As employment of those in their peak earning years rose, so did home prices. This is partly a function of basic supply and demand: Rising demand pushes prices higher. As employment fell, demand declined, and so did home prices. The Federal Reserve famously has a dual mandate: to maintain stable inflation and employment. The Fed attempts to pursue these goals with monetary tools such as setting interest rate targets, while the Federal government supports housing by subsidizing mortgage interest via tax policy and guaranteeing mortgages via the housing-lending agencies of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The Fed’s primary tool for stimulating demand for housing has been to lower mortgage interest rates, by buying the US Treasuries that set the baseline cost of long-term debt and also mortgage securities. Indeed, the Fed’s first quantitative easing (QE) program was to buy about $1 trillion in distressed mortgage debt outright. This removed the impaired debt from banks’ balance sheets and also served to lower mortgage rates.

Egon von Greyerz: There Is No Deus Ex Machina Left

With most of the world’s major economies as well as the financial system bankrupt, there is only one solution that can save the world economy. Like in the Greek tragedies, Deus ex Machina is now the only way that the world can avoid a total economic collapse. This would involve God being lowered down onto the world stage and miraculously saving the plot. For those few who believe in this, may God bless them. But since this is a very unlikely solution most people will instead rely on governments and central banks to save us. But how can anyone possibly believe that totally incompetent and clueless politicians and central bankers could solve anything. They created the problem in the first place and are therefore totally unsuitable to play the role of Deus. The main objective of governments is to stay in power and thus to buy votes. Therefore they are incapable of taking the right decisions. And the opposition, aspiring to power is even less suitable since they will lie through their teeth and promise the earth in order to be elected. (We know that there are exceptions like Ron Paul, but the voters will most probably find his medicine too strong to swallow.). What about central bankers, can’t they save us? Unfortunately any sensible person who becomes a central banker loses all his senses and becomes a prisoner of the political system. So if there is no Deus ex Machina and if governments or bankers can’t rescue the world, who can and what is the solution. Let us return to the wise von Mises to look at the options available now:

“THERE IS NO MEANS OF AVOIDING THE FINAL COLLAPSE OF A BOOM BROUGHT ABOUT BY CREDIT EXPANSION. THE ALTERNATIVE IS ONLY WHETHER THE CRISIS SHOULD COME SOONER AS A RESULT OF A VOLUNTARY ABANDONMENT OF FURTHER CREDIT EXPANSION, OR LATER AS A FINAL OR TOTAL CATASTROPHE OF THE CURRENCY SYSTEM INVOLVED”

Ludwig von Mises

Egan-Jones Exposes Wall Street's "Big Investment Fraud"... In 2006

Lately, the Egan-Jones credit ratings agency has experienced a lot of bad publicity from the co-opted and conflicted media, especially those in which GE has a minority stake, for no other reason than being the only organization that is in some way a part of the status quo yet dares to constantly lash out at the lies behind the scenes and expose the fraud and corruption that permeates the modern Ponzi system. Frankly, we have had it with this propaganda. Confirming that when it comes to honesty and integrity, EJ may or may not be at the front of the pack, but they sure tried to warn other about the impending systemic collapse. Presented below is an interview conducted by Kate Welling with Sean Egan back on June 30, 2006, or the absolute peak of the credit bubble frenzy, in which everything Egan said: down to the most dire prediction, has occurred. Somehow we are confident people slighted, mocked and ridiculed him then as well. He was right then. He will be right again.

How President Obama Is Rapidly Becoming A Gold Bug's Best Friend

In the latest note from the masters of the arcane at ConvergEx, Nick Colas' team looks at the historically very strong correlation between home prices (which recently hit an 8 year low: here and here) and unemployment, a foundation stone in every single QE episode as to the Chairman the only controlled variable to set the unemployment rate are average home prices, and flips it. In other words, in their Friday analysis ConvergEx try to extrapolate just by how much home prices need to rise to hit the Fed's projected unemployment rates of 8.7% in 2012 (absent the now generic labor participation rate fudge of course), 8.2% in 2013 and 7.7% in 2014. The answer is disturbing: "In order for unemployment to reach 8.7% in the Composite-10 next year (2012), home prices will have to rise by an average of 3.5%. To reach 8.2% in 2013, they will have to climb 9.4% from their current prices. For a 7.7% unemployment rate in 2014, the necessary rate of increase is 15.4%." It is disturbing because while Case Shiller predicts a 2.7% rise in 2012, we have now seen the 5th consecutive drop in home prices, and the largest sequential decline since March 2011. In other words, not only are home prices not rising, or even stabilizing, they are suddenly deteriorating at an alarming pace yet again. ConvergEx continues: "we have no doubt that the Fed knows these numbers... If it costs a QE III to get the 3.5% bump in real estate prices, or even a QE IV, then markets should not doubt that the current Federal Reserve will seriously consider it." At the end of the day, the only thing the Fed thinks it can control are asset prices for that most critical of assets: housing. And if rising home prices means diluting a few hundred billion more dollars, so be it. After all, we are now less than 12 months from the presidential election, and all bets are off. As SocGen predicted, expect to see massive monetary easing resume as soon as January when Obama realizes he needs something to go right or else he can kiss that second term good bye. Ironically, the lower the president's interim rating, the higher the price of gold will ultimately rise when all is said and done. Who would have thought that the worst president since Carter would be a gold bug's biggest friend.

Guest Post: Unleashing the Future: Advancing Prosperity Through Debt Forgiveness (Part 4)

Simply put, “productivity” is giving to the future, instead of taking from the future. Parasitism is the opposite: Borrowing from the future to fund present desires without credible connection to future healthy growth. Successful productivity requires the development of beneficial new approaches to value creation and the rigorous identification and confrontation of approaches that destroy value and that destroy the environmental, financial, social, and personal fabric of human endeavor. Debt forgiveness is initially brought into play to address the latter requirement, but cannot be viable over the long haul without affirmative new ways to create and exchange value. Given that we have the collective integrity, self-preservation instinct, human will, and the sense of necessity to confront our broken system, let’s first establish philosophical and practical corollaries to guide debt forgiveness as “giving to the future instead of taking from it”:

Hank Paulson Tipped Off The Goldman-Led "Plunge Protection Team" About Fannie Bankruptcy 7 Weeks In Advance

Today, BusinessWeek's Michael Serrill and Jonathan Neumann have released a blockbuster report based on a FOIA response by the Treasury, which proves that in America rules are only for little people, that this country has been a banana republic for years, that Animal Farm was spot on, and gives excruciating detail of how Hank Paulson tipped off a select group of Goldman diaspora hedge fund managers about the eventual failure of Fannie and Freddie 7 weeks ahead of this information becoming public knowledge. The report basically is a summary of a meeting that took place at the offices of Eton Mindich's Eton Park headquarters on July 21, 2008, 7 days after his famous '“If you have a bazooka, and people know you have it, you're not likely to take it out," speech and 7 weeks before both GSEs effectively filed for bankruptcy and were put into conservatorship. Now if it only ended there it would have been fine - a case of potential criminal collusion between the government (although nothing specific against Paulson as he didn't actually trade: he just made sure his former Goldman colleagues made money), and the 0.00001% in the face of a few multi-billionaires who most certainly did trade on material non-public information sourced by Hank. Where it however gets worse is when one considers the actual role of one Eric Mindich in the hierarchy of the Asset Managers' committee of the President's Working Group on Capital Markets, better known of course as the PPT: a topic we discussed first back in September 2009 when we asked "What Is Goldman Alum Eric Mindich's Role As Chair Of The Asset Managers' Committee Of The President's Working Group?" Back then we did not get an answer. Luckily, courtesy of a few answered FOIA requests, some real investigative journalism, and not reporting for the sake of brown-nosing just so one can get soundbites for their next name dropping "blockbuster" and straight to HBO movie, we are starting to get the full picture of just how high in US government the Goldman Sachs controlled "crony capitalist" adminsitration truly runs.

The Plot Thickens: More On The Weekly $88 Billion "Other" Outflow

Following our observations last night that there was an $88 billion swing in the weekly "other" deposit account with the Fed, some have quickly come to the fore to "debunk" our observation that this is a rather curious swing in total notional, by claiming that this can easily be explained away using cash demands at the GSE level. There are two problems with this "explanation" - i) it does not actually explain the swing, and ii) it is incomplete. As noted previously, Fannie tapped the Treasury for $7.8 billion in Q3, while the quarterly Freddie Mac injection amounted to $6.0 billion. In other words the combined $13.8 billion cash draw need (assuming a deferral to the funds flow) would almost explain the $88 billion weekly shift... if only it weren't for the other $74.2 billion, which not even fully unmatched (i.e., assuming no new issuance) weekly debt maturity and interest repayment comes close to filling the gap. Furthermore, the "Other" cumulative delta for November and the YTD period is $61.5 billion and $115 billion, respectively, which is nowhere near close to explaining the total funding needs of these entities. What may explain the delta, and what these "debunkers" have missed is the full definition of the "Deposits with Federal Reserve Banks, other than Reserve Balances: Other (WOTHLB)" from the St Louis Fed which is as follows: "Other deposits at Federal Reserve Banks include balances of international and multilateral organizations with accounts at FRBNY, such as the International Monetary Fund, United Nations, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank); the special checking account of the ESF (where deposits from monetizing SDRs would be placed); and balances of a few U.S. government agencies, such as the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." In other words, the GSEs may well be a part of last week's cash outflow package, but they certainly are not the full story, and other entities such as the IMF, the UN, the World Bank and the legendary in some circles ESF are all part of the "other" reserve "use of funds" destination. In other words, someone (presumably someone with some urgent window dressing needs), and it sure wasn't only (if at all) the GSEs, had a massive capital shortfall and had to resort to Fed deposits. And by the looks of things, these could have easily been "international" entities tasked with bailing out the world such as the IMF.