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Investments

Federal government to keep juicing the GSEs: Compass Point

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are likely to remain in conservatorship for the foreseeable future with the agencies filling the Treasury’s coffers, analysts claim.

As long as the housing agencies can turn considerable profit, analysts at Compass Point Research & Trading expect little political capital or incentive to enact large-scale GSE reforms.

Dividend payments from the GSEs are already reducing estimates for the nation's 2013 budget deficit—a factor that could turn lawmakers complacent on the issue of large-scale restructuring.

The Congressional Budget Office now estimates a 2013 U.S. budget deficit that's $200 billion lower than earlier projections.

"The change is due in large part to the CBO’s updated projections for dividend payments from the GSEs to the Treasury Department," analyst Isaac Boltansky with Compass Point explained.

Noticeably, the change came after the CBO revamped its 2013 estimate for GSE dividend payments to the Treasury, lifting projections to $95 billion from $29 billion.

Add into the mix impending g-fee increases, and Fannie and Freddie profits could push even higher, giving the government less incentive to shift directions.

"The clearest example of this is the impact the GSE dividend payments are having on the debt ceiling debate timeline," Boltansky wrote. "Even though the debt ceiling goes back into effect on May 19, the Treasury Department has enough headroom to make its payments for a number of months after that date by taking certain extraordinary measures. Originally, groups such as the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) estimated that the Treasury’s extraordinary measures would run out between mid-August and mid-October of 2013."

Dividend payments from the GSEs have pushed the deadline well into the second half of the year.

"It’s an ironic twist uniquely fit for Washington: the same housing finance giants that needed a bailout almost five years ago have returned to profitability and, in doing so, have allowed lawmakers to postpone the next round of budget and debt ceiling battles," he added.

The takeway is the GSEs have become a 'source of revenue' for the government to squeeze, making reforms less likely to gain traction, Boltansky concluded.

kpanchuk@housingwire.com

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