Freddie Mac Can’t Afford its Bailout

Freddie Mac is requesting another government bailout to keep solvent, asking for $146 million from the U.S. Treasury in order to help make interest payments on government loans the lender used to keep afloat.

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While Freddie reported $619 million in net income in the fourth quarter of 2011, as well as other income of $887 million, it wasn’t enough to make its $1.7 billion interest payment to the government. Freddie has borrowed $72.3 billion in federal aid since it and sister company Fannie Mae were seized by the government at the height of the financial crisis.

Freddie must make 10 percent dividend payments on the government loans every quarter, per the terms of the takeover. The mortgage company has so far paid about $16.5 billion in cash dividends to the Treasury, raising the funds to make the payments in part by cutting about $180 million in expenses over the last two years.

Together Fannie and Freddie have soaked up about $170 billion in taxpayers’ money since being taken over and placed in a conservatorship in 2008. Fannie Mae last week said it would seek another $4.6 billion in government funds due to losses related to its legacy portfolio of bad loans.

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