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History

1992: The issue of Fannie and Freddie becoming involved in the mortgage-backed securities began when the Congress, according to a speech by Ben Bernanke, “adopted the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act, in effect, requiring Fannie and Freddie to devote a percentage of their lending to support affordable housing increasing their pooling and selling of such loans as securities.” (Ben S. Bernanke, “The Community Reinvestment Act: Its Evolution and New Challenges“, speech, Community Affairs Research Conference, Washington, D.C., Federal Reserve System 03/30/ 07)

1997: The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 allowed First Union Capital Markets and Bear, Stearns & Co. launch the first publicly available securitization of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) loans, issuing $384.6 million of such securities. All carried Fannie Mae guarantee as to timely interest and principal. (“First Union Capital Markets Corp., Bear, Stearns & Co. Price Securities Offering Backed By Affordable Mortgages,”PR Newswire, AND “Fannie Mae increases CRA options,” American Bankers Association Banking Journal, November, 2000)

1998: Inflation-adjusted home price appreciation exceeded 10% per year in most West Coast metropolitan areas providing oxygen to the national housing bubble, according to Robert J. Schiller, Professor of Economics and Finance at Yale University. (“Understanding Recent Trends in House Prices and Home Ownership,” Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank 08/01/07)

July, 1999: The Department of Housing and Urban Development, led by Secretary Andrew Coumo, announced a Clinton-era program to provide $2.4 trillion for “affordable housing.” Also that month, Countrywide Financial and Fannie Mae signed a Strategic agreement which lead to Countrywide becoming the country’s leading mortgage provider to poor minorities. (Cuomo Announces Action To Provide $2.4 Trillion In Mortgages For Affordable Housing For 28.1 Million Families US Department of Housing and Urban Development 07/29/99)

September, 1999: Fannie Mae, according to an article in the New York Times, “eased the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders … and will encourage banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans.” (Steven A. Holmes, “Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending,” The New York Times 09/30/99)

2002: The financial markets had gone through the collapse of the dot-com bubble, but, the housing bubble continued to gain steam. At this point annual appreciation had reached its highest level in over 20 years. (Annual Home Appreciation Rates, California 2002-2003 ForecastChart.com)

2003: President George W. Bush supported the expansion of the low-income housing program leading Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to buy $81 billion in subprime securities. Later that year the Bush Administration pushed for new oversight of Fannie and Freddie to be conducted by the Department of the Treasury, but that move was blocked by Congress. (Carol D. Leonnig, “How HUD Mortgage Policy Fed The Crisis,” Washington Post, 06/10/08, Leonnig)

2004-2007: Many banks, mortgage underwriters and other lenders, abandoned loan standards (employment history, income, down payments, credit rating, assets, property loan-to-value ratio and debt-servicing ability), emphasizing instead lender’s ability to securitize and repackage subprime loans.

February, 2007: the housing market had slowed to the point that Subprime industry collapsed leading more than 25 subprime lenders to declare bankruptcy, announce significant losses, or put themselves up for sale. (The Subprime Lending Crisis: Causes and Effects of the Mortgage Meltdown CCH Federal Banking, Bianco, 2008)

April 7, 2007: New Century Financial, the largest U.S. independent provider of home loans to people with poor credit histories, collapsed amid rising subprime delinquencies and defaults. (“New Century files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy,” CNN 04/03/07)

July, 2008: Congress enacts the Housing Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (“HERA”). This act temporarily authorized the US Treasury to make investments in the GSEs to stabilize their financial condition.

September 6, 2008: the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship run by the FHFA. The move was publically supported by both Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. According to the terms of the conservatorship, in exchange for future support and capital investments of up to US$ 100 billion in each GSE, Fannie and Freddie each issued to the Treasury US $1 billion of senior preferred stock, with a 10% coupon, without cost to the government.

2009: a total of 3,957,643 foreclosures were filed on 2,824,674 properties during the year, up 21 percent from 2008. (A record 2.8 million properties receive foreclosure notices in 2009 RealtyTrac 2009)

2010: An internal Treasury memo between the Treasury memo between Undersecretary Jeffrey Goldstein to Treasury Secretary Geithner recommends a course of action that will “make clear the administration’s commitment to ensure existing common equity holders will not have access to any positive earnings from the GSEs in the future.” (Gretchen Morgenson, “The Untouchable Profits of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” New York Times, 2/15/14)

August 7, 2012: the US Treasury and the GSEs (Fannie and Freddie) agreed to, but did not enact, what is known as “Third Amendments” to the conservancy action that would, in effect, change the 10% coupon to a 100% coupon – effectively wiping out all other bond and shareholders – a group that includes retirees, pension funds, community banks, and insurance companies.

January 1, 2013: The Third Amendments were enacted as agreed upon on August 7, 2013.

June 25, 2013: US Senators Bob Corker (TN-R) and Mark Warner (VA-D) introduced the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2013 (S. 1217).

July 22, 2013: PATH Act authored By Representative Jeb Hensarling (TX-R-05) was introduced.

March 9, 2014: US Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced their version of the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014 (S. 1217).

November 16, 2014: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced $6 billion dollar profit in third quarter earnings. In total, Fannie Mae has repaid the federal government $134.5 billion on a $116.1 billion loan. Freddie Mac has repaid the federal government $91 billion on a $71.3 billion loan.

February 4, 2016 – Representative Stephen Fincher (R-TN) and Office of Management and Budget Director designate, Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), send a letter to then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and FHFA Director Mel Watt highlighting the risks posed to taxpayers by the ongoing Net Worth Sweep. (Rep. Stephen Fincher and Rep. Mick Mulvaney letter to Secretary Jacob Lew and Director Melvin Watt, 2/4/16)

February 12, 2016 – President Obama’s FY 2017 budget proposal accounts for GSE revenues through 2027. (“Final Obama Budget Banks of Fannie and Freddie for Years to Come,” Investors Unite (2/12/16)

February 18, 2016 – On the same day that Freddie Mac announced a $2.2 billion profit for Q4 2015, Mel Watt expressed alarm about the GSEs dwindling capital buffers – a direct result of the Net Worth Sweep – during remarks at the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Melvin L. Watt, “Prepared Remarks of Melvin L. Watt Director of FHFA at the Bipartisan Policy Center,” Federal Housing Finance Agency, 2/18/16)

March 14, 2016 – Investors Unite publishes FHFA and Treasury privilege logs. The logs, which are roughly 1,200 pages in length themselves, detail the roughly 180,000 pages of documents regarding the government’s rational for enacting the Net Worth Sweep, which it is seeking to withhold from the public. (“Government Privilege Logs,” Fannie Freddie Secrets)

April 13, 2016 – Unsealed documents show that government officials anticipated the GSEs’ return to sustained profitability, and knew that the entities were not in a “death spiral,” before implementing the Net Worth Sweep in 2012. (“Unsealed Documents – April 13, 2016,” Fannie Freddie Secrets)

April 15, 2016 – Oral arguments presented in appeal of Lamberth ruling.

May 23, 2016 – Investors Unite launches FannieFreddieSecrets.org

June 2, 2016 – US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation rejects FHFA motion to consolidate GSE shareholder lawsuits. 

June 10, 2016 – The Obama Administration officially invokes “Presidential Communications Privilege” over four documents in an attempt to obfuscate the government’s rationale in enacting the Net Worth Sweep. (Fairholme Funds v. United States, Fed. Cir. 6/10/16)

June 22, 2016 – Unsealed documents reveal that the Net Worth Sweep was contemplated for months by Treasury and Administration officials as a means of reaching the Administration’s goal of winding down the GSEs. (“Unsealed Documents – June 22, 2016,” Fannie Freddie Secrets)

July 11, 2016 – Investors Unite Survey conducted by Schoen Consulting finds that most Americans support Fannie and Freddie, and that plurality of likely voters believe that the Net Worth Sweep is a violation of shareholders’ rights. (Douglas E. Schoen, “Housing Access Polling” 7/12/16)

August 2, 2016 – Unsealed documents in the Federal Court of Claims reveal the outsized role Treasury played in governing the GSEs since the beginning of the conservatorship, in violation of HERA’s mandate that FHFA act independently. (“Unsealed Documents – August 2, 2016,” Fannie Freddie Secrets)

September 20, 2016 – Judge Sweeney issued her ruling which rejected government claims of privilege over 58 documents, which she reviewed “in camera.” (Fairholme v. United States, Fed. Cir. 9/20/16)

October 20, 2016 – Congressional Budget Office report highlights the benefits of allowing the GSEs to retain capital. (“The Effects of Increasing Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Capital,” Congressional Budget Office, 10/20/16)

November 30, 2016 – Treasury Secretary Designate Steve Mnuchin calls ending the conservatorship a “top ten priority” for the incoming Trump Administration. (Richard Leong and Patrick Rucker, “U.S. should cede control of Fannie and Freddie: Mnuchin,” Reuters 11/30/16)

January 30, 2017 – Appeals court ruling rejecting gov’t appeal on privilege claims over 51 of 58 documents, largely upholding Judge Sweeney’s ruling from September 2016. (Fairholme v. United States, Fed. Cir.  1/30/17)