Is the Fed's Quantitative Easing Pushing Up Home Prices?

Is the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing over inflating housing prices?  According to one Fed Official they aren't  Yet the Federal Reserve is buying 50% of mortgage backed securities, keeping mortgage interest rates at record lows and affecting pricing on mortgage backed securities themselves.


The Fed's Economic Projections and Bernanke Conference

The Federal Reserve FOMC released their updated economic projections and frankly they are weird.  GDP estimates were lowered yet the official unemployment rate projections were also lowered.  The rule of economic law is lower economic growth means less jobs and hires so how one can have subdued GDP with better unemployment figures is none too clear.

WSJ Reporting $20 Billion Mortgage Principle Reduction or Be Fined White House Plan

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the Obama administration is planning on levying $20 billion in civil fines on mortgage services for foreclosure fraud in order to force the Banks to reduce principle on mortgage modifications by a similar total amount. In other words, we're gonna fine you by a big whopping sum if you don't actually help homeowners, reduce mortgage principal and take the loss. Of course absurd mortgage backed securities and investors remain unscathed.

The Obama administration is trying to push through a settlement over mortgage-servicing breakdowns that could force America's largest banks to pay for reductions in loan principal worth billions of dollars.

Terms of the administration's proposal include a commitment from mortgage servicers to reduce the loan balances of troubled borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth, people familiar with the matter said. The cost of those writedowns won't be borne by investors who purchased mortgage-backed securities, these people said.

If a unified settlement can be reached, some state attorneys general and federal agencies are pushing for banks to pay more than $20 billion in civil fines or to fund a comparable amount of loan modifications for distressed borrowers, these people said.

Fed vs. Fed

The Federal Reserve has a dissident in their midst who is about to get FOMC voting rights. spyvsspy Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Charles I. Plosser gave one wallop of a speech making it very clear he disagrees with the Federal Reserve bailing out the Banksters and the Housing Market. He also disagrees with intervention in assets as well as giving the illusion the Federal Reserve can really do something about unemployment. From the speech:

I have suggested that the System Open Market Account (SOMA) portfolio, which is used to implement monetary policy in the U.S., be restricted to short-term U.S. government securities. Before the financial crisis, U.S. Treasury securities constituted 91 percent of the Fed’s balance-sheet assets. Given that the Fed now holds some $1.1 trillion in agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and agency debt securities intended to support the housing sector, that number is 42 percent today. The sheer magnitude of the mortgage-related securities demonstrates the degree to which monetary policy has engaged in supporting a particular sector of the economy through its allocation of credit. It also points to the potential challenges the Fed faces as we remove our direct support of the housing sector.

Federal Reserve Turns a Profit , Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain

wizardbehindcurtain.jpegWho says the Federal Reserve isn't good for something? They just made $80.9 billion dollars in 2010.

The Federal Reserve Board on Monday announced preliminary unaudited results indicating that the Reserve Banks provided for payments of approximately $78.4 billion of their estimated 2010 net income of $80.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury. This represents a $31.0 billion increase in payments to the U.S. Treasury over 2009 ($47.4 billion of $53.4 billion of net income). The increase was due primarily to increased interest income earned on securities holdings during 2010.

On the other hand, what they made the money on are securities from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, or GSEs, U.S. Treasuries and those infamous mortgage backed securities or toxic assets them purchased.

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Buy Back Bad Mortgages

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced they will buy back mortgages which are delinquent:

The two companies are repurchasing mortgage loans for which borrowers have missed at least four months of payments. At the end of last year, Fannie had about $127 billion of such loans, while Freddie Mac had about $70 billion.

Now they are doing this supposedly because it's cheaper. They guarantee the underlying securities and have to pay interest on those MBS (bonds) and it's turning out to be cheaper to just buy the bad loans back.

Yet, Bloomberg reports:

Investors would lose about $12.5 billion in forgone interest.

Bond holders pay more than the face value due to expected interest payments.

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Get "Unlimited" Bail out!

What a time to bury a press release,Christmas Eve, the headlines awash on health care bill Senate passage. Well, some of use are wired to God and despite cooking pomegranate glazed ducks and wrapping presents, we're not asleep at the wheel!

To find the juice, one must even look between the lines of the U.S. Treasury Press release:

Treasury is now amending the PSPAs to allow the cap on Treasury's funding commitment under these agreements to increase as necessary to accommodate any cumulative reduction in net worth over the next three years. At the conclusion of the three year period, the remaining commitment will then be fully available to be drawn per the terms of the agreements.

The Peddling of Toxic Waste, otherwise known as CDOs being investigated

Seems the SEC is just catching up to the finance blogs.

The New York Times article, Banks Bundled Bad Debt, Bet Against it and Won (great title, about sums it all up!) outlines some new investigations.

Goldman was not the only firm that peddled these complex securities — known as synthetic collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s — and then made financial bets against them, called selling short in Wall Street parlance. Others that created similar securities and then bet they would fail, according to Wall Street traders, include Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, as well as smaller firms like Tricadia Inc., an investment company whose parent firm was overseen by Lewis A. Sachs, who this year became a special counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.