The U.S. Treasury building in Washington, D.C. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty…)
Reporting from Washington — The Treasury Department has sold the last of $225 billion in mortgage-backed securities it began buying during the financial crisis and announced the program designed to keep the housing finance market afloat made a $25 billion profit.
The purchases of bonds from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started in October 2008 and continued through December 2009 as part of a series of unprecedented government interventions into the financial system.
“The successful sale of these securities marks another important milestone in the wind down of the government’s emergency financial crisis response efforts,” said Mary Miller, the Treasury's assistant secretary for financial markets, on Monday. “This program helped support the housing market during a critical moment for our nation’s economy and delivered a substantial profit for taxpayers.”
The bonds consisted mostly of 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages that were guaranteed by Fannie or Freddie, the housing finance giants that were seized by the government in 2008 to avoid their collapse. The Treasury purchased the bonds to keep money flowing into the mortgage market, helping banks continue to make loans to homebuyers as the economy struggled.
As the economy and financial system improved, the Treasury began selling the mortgage-backed securities last March. The $225 billion in bonds were sold slowly over the past year to avoid harming the mortgage market.
As the sales progressed, the Treasury said it anticipated making a profit. The department said Monday it received a total of $250 billion in sales, principal and interest from the securities.
The purchase of mortgage-backed securities was separate from the bailout of Fannie and Freddie.
As of March 13, the two companies had received a total of about $188 billion in taxpayer money to stay afloat amid losses that stemmed largely from mortgages guaranteed or purchased before the housing market collapse.
Fannie and Freddie have paid the government about $36 billion in dividends since the bailout began in 2008, reducing the overall cost to taxpayers to about $152 billion.
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