This deal with Fannie is an outrage. Now taxpayers are on the hook for any and all lawsuits associated with the fraud. This was a transfer of liability more than anything else. Details on today's taxpayer pillaging are below.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The official bailout of the financial system may be over, but the government is apparently far from finished propping up big banks, as evidenced by the news that Bank of America has struck a deal to dump a bunch of near-worthless home loans on U.S. taxpayers.
According to a report in The Wall Street Journal Bank of America has sold the rights to process and collect payments on 400,000 home loans to Fannie Mae, the government-controlled mortgage giant. The loans have an unpaid principal balance of $73 billion, but are being sold for $500 million, according to the report.
Doesn't sound like a bad deal for the government, unless that $500 million price tag will soon be too steep, which is what "a person familiar with the deal," told the Journal.
FORTUNE -- Taxpayers may not realize it, but they just bailed out Bank of America again, this time to the tune of more than a half billion dollars.
The Charlotte, NC-based bank was one of the biggest recipients of bailout funds during the financial crisis. But Bank of America continues to face deep problems related to its troubled mortgage portfolio and investors have battered the stock, which has plunged over 40% so far this year. That's escalated concerns that the bank may need to raise more capital. Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism has even started a BofA death watch.
But apparently the federal government is determined to resurrect BofA: the Wall Street Journalreports the feds have just used Fannie Mae, which is controlled by the U.S. government, to infuse BofA with $500 million and ease one of the bank's biggest headaches.
Yesterday afternoon on CNBC, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan mentioned that five of BofA's six businesses were making money. The one black spot was its massive portfolio of problematic mortgages and the liabilities flowing from it. Moynihan also mentioned that BofA had just sold some "mortgage servicing rights" as part of its balance sheet strengthening efforts, but he didn't elaborate.
According to the WSJ, Fannie Mae spent $500 million to buy the servicing rights to a big chunk of the "seven million loans still causing the most problems." Although the $500 million is a paper loss to BofA, in that the rights were "originally worth more," it looks like BofA is still getting a good deal because the portfolio's "value is expected to deteriorate further."
In fact, the deal is worth much more than $500 million to BofA, because getting rid of those servicing rights lifts a huge cost burden off BofA's shoulders. And if securitized loans are involved, which they most likely are, the sale also limits the BofA's potential liability to investors for its current servicing violations. Finally, the $500 million is surely more than the servicing rights are worth in an arms-length transaction. How do we know? Beyond the comment that the loans are expected to "deteriorate further," the goal of the intervention can only be to fix Bank of America's capital structure, which is easier for the government to do if it overpays for the rights.
In short, purchasing these servicing rights was another Troubled Asset Relief Program.