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The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), known as Freddie Mac, is a public government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia.[3][4] Freddie Mac is ranked No. 38 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.[5]

The FHLMC was created in 1970 to expand the secondary market for mortgages in the US. Along with the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), 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 a variant of the initialism of the company's full name that was adopted officially for ease of identification.

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".[6][7][8]

Moody's gave Freddie Mac's preferred stock an investment grade credit 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 rating on that day to Baa3, the lowest investment-grade rating. Freddie's senior debt credit rating remains Aaa/AAA from each of the major rating agencies: Moody's, S&P, and Fitch.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11] In 2008, the yield on U.S Treasury securities rose in anticipation of increased U.S. federal debt.[12] The housing market and economy eventually recovered, making Freddie Mac profitable once again.


History

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. Initially, Freddie Mac was owned by the Federal Home Loan Bank System and governed by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.

In 1989, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 ("FIRREA") revised and standardized the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It also severed Freddie Mac's ties to the Federal Home Loan Bank System. The Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) was abolished and replaced by different and separate entities. An 18-member board of directors for Freddie Mac was formed, and subjected to oversight by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Separately, The Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) was created as an independent agency to take the place of the FHLBB, to oversee the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks (also called district banks).

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".[13]

Freddie Mac was put under a conservatorship of the U.S. federal government on Sunday, September 7, 2008.[14]

Business

Freddie Mac's primary method of making money is by charging a guarantee fee on loans that it has purchased and securitized into mortgage-backed security (MBS) bonds. Investors, or purchasers of Freddie Mac MBS, are willing to let Freddie Mac keep this fee in exchange for assuming the credit risk. That is, Freddie Mac guarantees that the principal and interest on the underlying loan will be paid back regardless of whether the borrower actually repays. Owing to Freddie Mac's financial guarantee, these MBS are particularly attractive to investors and, like other Agency MBS, are eligible to be traded in the "to-be-announced", or "TBA" market.[15]

Conforming loans

The GSEs are allowed to buy only conforming loans, which limits secondary market demand for non-conforming loans. The relationship between supply and demand typically renders the non-conforming loan harder to sell (fewer competing buyers); thus it would cost the consumer more (typically 1/4 to 1/2 of a percentage point, and sometimes more, depending on credit market conditions). OFHEO, now merged into the new FHFA, annually sets the limit of the size of a conforming loan in response to the October to October change in mean home price. Above the conforming loan limit, a mortgage is considered a jumbo loan. The conforming loan limit is 50 percent higher in such high-cost areas as Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the US Virgin Islands,[16] and is also higher for 2–4 unit properties on a graduating scale. Modifications to these limits were made temporarily to respond to the housing crisis, see Jumbo loan for recent events.

Guarantees and subsidies

No actual guarantees

Freddie Mac's primary method of making money is by charging a guarantee fee on loans that it has purchased and securitized into mortgage-backed security (MBS) bonds. Investors, or purchasers of Freddie Mac MBS, are willing to let Freddie Mac keep this fee in exchange for assuming the credit risk. That is, Freddie Mac guarantees that the principal and interest on the underlying loan will be paid back regardless of whether the borrower actually repays. Owing to Freddie Mac's financial guarantee, these MBS are particularly attractive to investors and, like other Agenc

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. Initially, Freddie Mac was owned by the Federal Home Loan Bank System and governed by the Federal Home Loan Bank Board.

In 1989, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989 ("FIRREA") revised and standardized the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It also severed Freddie Mac's ties to the Federal Home Loan Bank System. The Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) was abolished and replaced by different and separate entities. An 18-member board of directors for Freddie Mac was formed, and subjected to oversight by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Separately, The Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB) was created as an independent agency to take the place of the FHLBB, to oversee the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks (also called district banks).

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".[13]

Freddie Mac was put under a conservatorship of the U.S. federal government on Sunday, September 7, 2008.[14]

Freddie Mac's primary method of making money is by charging a guarantee fee on loans that it has purchased and securitized into mortgage-backed security (MBS) bonds. Investors, or purchasers of Freddie Mac MBS, are willing to let Freddie Mac keep this fee in exchange for assuming the credit risk. That is, Freddie Mac guarantees that the principal and interest on the underlying loan will be paid back regardless of whether the borrower actually repays. Owing to Freddie Mac's financial guarantee, these MBS are particularly attractive to investors and, like other Agency MBS, are eligible to be traded in the "to-be-announced", or "TBA" market.[15]

Conforming loans

There is a widespread belief that FHLMC securities are backed by some sort of implied federal guarantee and a majority of investors believe that the government would prevent a disastrous default. Vernon L. Smith, 2002 Nobel Laureate in economics, has called FHLMC and FNMA "implicitly taxpayer-backed agencies".<

There is a widespread belief that FHLMC securities are backed by some sort of implied federal guarantee and a majority of investors believe that the government would prevent a disastrous default. Vernon L. Smith, 2002 Nobel Laureate in economics, has called FHLMC and FNMA "implicitly taxpayer-backed agencies".[18] The Economist has referred to "the implicit government guarantee"[19] of FHLMC and FNMA.

The then director of the Congressional Budget Office, Dan L. Crippen, testified before Congress in 2001, that the "debt and mortgage-backed securities of GSEs are more valuable to investors than similar private securities because of the percepti

The then director of the Congressional Budget Office, Dan L. Crippen, testified before Congress in 2001, that the "debt and mortgage-backed securities of GSEs are more valuable to investors than similar private securities because of the perception of a government guarantee."[20]

The FHLMC receives no direct federal government aid. However, the corporation and the securities it issues are thought to benefit from government subsidies. The Congressional Budget Office writes, "There have been no federal appropriations for cash payments or guarantee subsidies. But in the place of federal funds the government provides considerable unpriced benefits to the enterprises. Government-sponsored enterprises are costly to the government and taxpayers. The benefit is currently worth $6.5 billion annually." [21]

The mortgage crisis from late 2007

In 2003, Freddie Mac revealed that it had understated earnings by almost $5 billion, one of the largest corporate restatements in U.S. history. As a result, in November, it was fined $125 million—an amount called "peanuts" by Forbes magazine.[26]

On April 18, 2006, Freddie Mac was fined $3.8 million, by far the largest amount ever assessed by the Federal Election Commission, as a result of illegal campaign contributions. Freddie Mac was accused of illegally using corpor

In 2003, Freddie Mac revealed that it had understated earnings by almost $5 billion, one of the largest corporate restatements in U.S. history. As a result, in November, it was fined $125 million—an amount called "peanuts" by Forbes magazine.[26]

On April 18, 2006, Freddie Mac was fined $3.8 million, by far the largest amount ever assessed by the Federal Election Commission, as a result of illegal campaign contributions. Freddie Mac was accused of illegally using corporate resources between 2000 and 2003 for 85 fundraisers that collected about $1.7 million for federal candidates. Much of the illegal fund raising benefited members of the House Financial Services Committee, a panel whose decisions can affect Freddie Mac. Notably, Freddie Mac held more than 40 fundraisers for House Financial Services Chairman Michael Oxley (R-OH).[27]

Government subsidies and bailout