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Fannie Mae Posts Record Profit; Paid Taxpayers $11.6 Billion In 2012

Fannie Mae's headquarters in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla
/
Getty Images
Fannie Mae's headquarters in Washington, DC.

The government-controlled mortgage giant Fannie Mae, which needed a $116 billion federal bailout after the housing bubble burst in 2007, said Tuesday that it earned a record $7.6 billion in fourth-quarter 2012 and $17.2 billion for the year.

That allowed it to pay $11.6 billion in dividends to the U.S. Treasury Department last year, Fannie Mae says. Since 2008, it has "paid taxpayers $35.6 billion in dividends." Looking ahead, "we expect our earnings to remain strong over the next few years," Timothy Mayopoulos, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Bloomberg News writes that:

"Washington-based Fannie Mae and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac buy mortgages from lenders and package them into securities on which they guarantee payments of principal and interest. The two companies have drawn $187.5 billion from Treasury and have sent back more than $60 billion in the form of dividends, which count as a return on the government's investment and not as a repayment.

"Under the terms of an agreement with Treasury that went into effect this year, the enterprises will be allowed to retain only $3 billion in net worth. Any profits beyond that amount will go to taxpayers."

As The Wall Street Journal notes in a paywall-protected report, Fannie Mae has been benefiting from "the housing market's turnaround and sustained declines in the number of soured home loans. ... Fannie is [also] losing less money on homes it sells through foreclosure as prices in many markets rise."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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