Fannie Mae needs bigger lifeline

@CNNMoney November 8, 2011: 7:21 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Losses widened at mortgage giant Fannie Mae in the third quarter, forcing the government-controlled firm to request another $7.8 billion from the Treasury Department.

The company reported Tuesday a net loss of $5.1 billion, compared to a net loss of $2.9 billion in the second quarter. A year ago, Fannie Mae reported a net loss of $1.3 billion.

The current quarter's loss was driven mainly by continued delinquency issues in mortgages it had purchased or guaranteed before 2009. Additionally, Fannie Mae suffered from an increase in expenses related to foreclosed properties. Declining interest rates also contributed to the company's losses.

Fannie Mae's (FNMA, Fortune 500) latest request for Treasury funding brings its total bailout to $112.6 billion. This will require an annualized dividend payment to the government of $11.3 billion, more than the company has ever earned in annual net income.

Millions of homeowners eligible for foreclosure review

Last week, Fannie Mae's twin, Freddie Mac, asked the government for an additional $6 billion, after reporting a $4.4 billion quarterly loss. It has now received $72.2 billion from the Treasury Department.

Federal regulators put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (FMCC, Fortune 500) into conservatorship during the financial meltdown in September 2008. The two companies now depend on government help to cover losses on the mortgages they own or guarantee.

But they remain a vital source of liquidity to the American housing market. It's estimated that the two firms, along with the smaller Ginnie Mae, have collectively guaranteed more than 80% of the single-family mortgages originated since the start of 2009.

On Monday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates the firms, said it estimates that the net cost of the bailouts through 2014 will be about $124 billion, down about 19% from its estimate a year ago.  To top of page

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