Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday reading from Sunday's NY Times. Trust me, it's interesting!

I know that reading about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is kinda boring, but this may help explain it all for you.  Gretchen Morgenson is a business columnist for the NY Times.  In my opinion, she's one of the best business writers ever, and her columns always explain a lot in plain English.  Her column from yesterday's NYT is The Housing Market is Still Missing a Backbone (title should link).

In a section about winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Morgenson writes " prove how hard this will be, both companies later in the week announced enormous profits for the second quarter of this year, most of which go to the government in the form of dividends. Together, the companies reported $15 billion in profits; with Treasury on the receiving end of this lush income stream, it will be tempting to keep the mortgage finance giants in business." She continues "...For starters, banks have grown accustomed to earning fees for making mortgages that they sell to Fannie and Freddie [Emphasis mine.] Generating fee income while placing the long-term credit or interest rate risk on the government’s balance sheet is a win-win for the banks."

Morgenson goes on to discuss why it's so hard to lure private investors into the mortgage market.  She's not talking about a flipper that has, say, 30 houses.  She means the institutions that buy millions and millions of dollars worth of bundles of thousands and thousands of mortgages.  Anyway, this is a great read from a very talented columnist.

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