Though the four are not in all the same businesses, they were caught in one of the same traps: They sold mortgage guarantees — in some cases to each other. Now when homeowners default, as they are doing in record numbers, these companies are covering the losses. Essentially, taxpayer money to these companies is being used partly to protect banks and other investors who own the mortgages.
Uh….. is someone writing circular credit-default swaps?
Maybe a few someones?
Maybe we’re not getting the full story on the losses?
Like the big banks, these four companies would no doubt prefer to be free of government assistance, which comes with pay and other restrictions on their executives. But they appear at risk of getting onto a debt merry-go-round, where they have to draw new money from the government just to keep up with their existing government debts.
Hand, meet job. Or is it something a bit more dark and sleazy?
Those capital commitments from the Treasury do not capture the full scale of government assistance to the companies. The government has also bought mortgage-backed securities and guaranteed corporate bonds, while the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has made an emergency loan.
Right. In the case of Fannie and Freddie, about one trillion worth of “purchases” by The Fed, which I have argued repeatedly (most recently right here) are illegal.
For its mortgage guarantee unit, A.I.G. used some Treasury money to reinsure $7 billion of obligations through a Vermont subsidiary. The terms call for the unit, United Guaranty of Greensboro, N.C., to pay the claims that it can afford and send the rest to the Vermont affiliate.
Little is known about the Vermont unit because the state does not require that type of company to file annual reports. If the Vermont company needs additional money, it presumably could turn to A.I.G., which can draw more from the Treasury.
Oh, and some of it is off-balance-sheet too.
Why that’s just…. lovely…. watch your step!