As a Phoenix short sale agent, I follow the goings-on of Fannie Mae pretty closely. I’m fascinated by the give and take of power, and the flow of big money to solve (or worsen) problems within the housing market. And Fannie Mae is in the middle of it all.
Fannie Mae Has Sprung a Leak… a BIG One
Fannie Mae is leaking money faster than the U.S. Postal Service. In Fannie’s case, however, when they lose money, they show up on Uncle Sam’s doorstep like a lazy brother-in-law who won’t work. Instead of begging to sleep on the couch for “a few days”, Fannie Mae asks for cash – a ton of it.
While this isn’t the first time Fannie Mae has asked for cash – since 2008 you and I, through the generosity of the federal government – have forked over about $170 billion to cover operational losses incurred by Fannie Mae and her evil brother, Freddie Mac. While the $4.6 billion Fannie Mae is asking for is just a fraction of the amount we’ve been asked to give them since 2008, it highlights a harsh reality: this organization doesn’t seem to know the first thing about managing money.
If your finances are a mess, you deal with it or you file for bankruptcy protection. While Fannie Mae is operationally bankrupt, they aren’t required to step into a courtroom and admit that they’re insolvent. You and I would. But you and I don’t have the political power that Fannie Mae does.
Fannie Mae continues spending money hand over fist. When the cash is gone, they show up on Uncle Sam’s doorstep and ask for even more money. This is a cycle, which has been repeated over and over again – and will likely continue until someone wakes up and realizes that the Fannie Mae financial swamp needs to be drained.
Fannie Mae’s Wasteful Ways
I’ve already mentioned the way Fannie Mae continues to beg for ever increasing sums of money. What I haven’t mentioned yet is some of the reasons why they need more money. Yes, this organization is losing money. They’re also stupidly spending it on things they shouldn’t, such as huge bonuses.
Follow the trail of money and your blood will boil. It would be a little more understandable if some of the bleeding cash made its way to hard hit homeowners. It isn’t. Instead, millions of dollars – your dollars – are being used to line the pockets of just a few muckety mucks at the highest levels of the Fannie Mae (and Freddie Mac) food chain.
Bonus Money: Beats Working for a Living
Here’s what I mean: In October, 10 Fannie & Freddie executives split more than $12.79 million in bonuses as a reward for doing such a good job of handling the mortgage crisis. The problem is, these bonuses weren’t made for actual top performance. These executives were simply being rewarded for not losing more than they did. Yes, the powers that be wrapped these bonuses in happy talk that made it sound like they had actually done something positive for the housing market, but they were basically being rewarded for having a pulse.
The reason given was hardly unique: these executives deserved to be well compensated to ensure that tax payers not be hooked into getting stuck with even more high dollar bailouts.
Let that sink in for a minute. You paid nearly $13 million in bonuses to the very people who contributed to Fannie Mae’s multibillion disaster in the first place… to ensure that “less qualified” people weren’t forced to try to solve the housing crisis. After all, less qualified experts might mismanage Fannie Mae, and could potentially contribute to the need for even more bailouts.
Solutions for the Masses?
Can I make an observation? This plan isn’t working. The experts have effectively driven the mortgage car into a very deep and jagged ditch. The only difference between the results Fannie Mae’s so-called experts have achieved and what the paper hat-wearing cashier at your favorite fast food restaurant might get is the price tag. That’s right, a financial “cashier” could probably be hired to garner the same results for maybe $10-$12 per hour. Yes, we might wind up in the same place but at least we’d have a little more cash to play with at the end of the day.
Instead of padding the pockets of a few selected executives for booting homeowners out into the street instead of actually helping them keep their homes, or making sure investors turn huge profits while guaranteeing that misery is spread fairly equally, it’s high time you, the forgotten taxpayer, get something for your money.
It’s time for Fannie Mae to fend for itself. If they’re in such a fat hurry to help lenders cover their losses, they should at least have the decency to figure out how to cover their own losses without finding new, ever creative ways to soak taxpayers for out of even more of their money.
That’s the way I see it. What do you think?