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Freddie Mac requests $1.8 billion in aid after loss

The mortgage finance giant's latest appeal for taxpayer help brings its total to more than $64 billion. It lost $6 billion in the second quarter.

August 09, 2010|Reuters

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said Monday that it would need an additional $1.8 billion in aid from taxpayers, bringing its total request since it was taken over by the government two years ago to more than $64 billion.

The second-largest U.S. residential mortgage funds provider reported a loss of $6 billion, or $1.85 per share, in the second quarter, including a $1.3-billion dividend payment to the government.

That compares with an $8 billion loss in the previous quarter and is the best three-month performance in a year. The firm lost $840 million in the second quarter of last year.

The company said losses stemmed primarily from loans purchased or guaranteed from 2005 to 2008.

The U.S. Treasury took control of Freddie Mac and its sister entity, Fannie Mae, at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 as loan losses mounted.

Since the government takeover, the two firms together have requested close to $150 billion from the government's unlimited credit line, scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.

The plan to put Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae into conservatorship was meant to be temporary.

But nearly two years later, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has only just begun the process of figuring out how to overhaul the U.S. housing finance system.

Geithner has called for a conference on the future of housing finance at the Treasury this month.

The financial regulatory overhaul, which was signed into law by President Obama last month, did not address reorganizing Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, although it did restrict some mortgage-lending practices that led to risky loans.

Freddie Mac said loans made last year and in the first half of this year have significantly lower default rates than comparable loans made from 2006 through 2008. The company said about a third of its portfolio of single-family home loans consisted of those newer, higher-quality loans.

Fannie Mae has also said stricter lending standards adopted last year are beginning to pay off and that the firm's "new book" of business is the strongest in a decade.

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