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FHA and FDIC Getting Ready to Ask Uncle Sam for a Bigger Allowance

Posted by Larry Doyle on September 18th, 2009 12:27 PM |

It was only a matter of time before both the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) would walk over to the U.S. Treasury and ask for a ‘bigger allowance.’ That time has come, despite what some officials may say. High five to MC for bringing the FHA story to my attention.

The Wall Street Journal highlights the FHA’s predicament in writing, FHA Tightens Credit Standards, Sees No Bailout:

The Federal Housing Administration said Friday its cash cushion will dip below mandated levels for the first time, but officials insist it won’t need a taxpayer rescue.

The agency, a growing source of funds for first-time home buyers, faces mounting concerns that it will soon need a taxpayer bailout. As of this summer, about 17% of FHA borrowers were at least one payment behind or in foreclosure, compared with 13% for all loans, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Rising defaults mean the FHA’s reserves may sink below the 2% mark required by federal law. The FHA says a study being sent to Congress in November is expected to show that ratio dipping below required levels for the first time.

Please recall that FHA-insured loans require only a 3% down payment. In writing a previous blog post focused on the FHA, a well informed reader shared with us that builders will often offer rebates which effectively cover that down payment. What is the result? Homeowners purchasing properties with no money down, otherwise known as ‘no skin in the game.’ This practice was prevalent throughout the irresponsible stage of sub-prime lending. Make no mistake, plenty of this is continuing today with the support and backstop of Uncle Sam . . . all in hopes of filling that growing hole in the housing dike.

The FHA will certainly need more capital unless and until mortgage delinquencies, defaults, and foreclosures stabilize and decline. None other than Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf shared the other day that he does not see a slowing on those fronts.

In regards to the FDIC, the insurance fund has exhausted the bulk of the initial $50 billion which it had prior to bank failures starting in 2008. The costs of these failures have far exceeded that $50 billion figure. How so? Some very large profile failures were brokered to stronger hands with FDIC support but without the FDIC having to make an initial outlay of funds.

The WSJ highlights the current dire straits of the FDIC in writing,  FDIC Mulls Borrowing from Treasury:

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair said Friday her agency may tap its $500 billion credit line with the U.S. Treasury to replenish its deposit insurance fund, though she appeared cautious about doing so.

“We are carefully considering all options” including borrowing from the Treasury, Ms. Bair said Friday after a speech in Washington.

Ms. Bair has already warned banks that they may face an assessment increase to bolster the fund. Friday, she said there are also other little-known options available to the agency, including requiring banks to prepay assessments. The FDIC board of directors will meet at the end of this month to consider how to replenish the fund, she said.

Individually, the FHA and FDIC stories are both significant. However, in the midst of bailouts of other institutions (large banks, Freddie and Fannie, AIG, GM, and Chrysler), the funds likely to be injected into these entities are treated as merely adding another leaf to Mom’s dining room table for Thanksgiving dinner.

Is the American public grateful for the undisciplined and greedy lending practices that have crippled the FHA and FDIC? Perhaps I should rephrase that question: are these institutions grateful for the American public putting their taxpayer dollars on the line?


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