Ruling in Perry Capital Appeal Shackles Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Shareholders

One buys stock with an understanding that the rules affecting profit and loss won’t change without warning. The U.S. Court for Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, apparently believes otherwise. On February 21, the court ruled 2-1 that investors in shares of secondary residential mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as managed by Perry Capital LLC, a New York hedge fund, have no right to realize their accrued profits. The decision continues the federal conservatorship of the two companies established in 2008. The case was triggered by the “sweep rule” issued by the Treasury Department in August 2012. That rule confiscated dividends as repayment for $187.5 billion in emergency loans even though the corporations have repaid far more than that. The case, one of many such suits, is a lesson on the perils of government bailouts.

National Legal and Policy Center on many occasions has analyzed the Fannie Mae and …

Documents Reveal Government Saw Gold in Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Profit ‘Sweep’

fannie-mae-and-freddie-macTwo years ago, in August 2012, the U.S. Treasury Department issued its so-called “sweep” rule forcing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to surrender all future profits. Shareholders were angered. Some sued the government. Their displeasure now has a measure of vindication. Near the end of July, an unnamed source leaked a confidential Treasury document (see pdf) to the public, dated June 13, 2011, showing that the department was willing to go to bat on behalf of outside investors, particularly The Blackstone Group, to facilitate purchases of equity stakes in the companies. At the time, Fannie and Freddie were rebounding from a deep slump, yet their management, under tight federal conservatorship since September 2008, had their hands tied. The latest revelations may strengthen the claims of existing shareholders, and more broadly, the cause of property rights.

National Legal and Policy Center for more than a year (such as

Court Forces Government to Release Documents in Fannie/Freddie Suit

Fannie Mae/Freddie MacThe burden carried by the holders of stock in mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, each operating for nearly six years under federal conservatorship, just got lighter. On July 16, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Margaret Sweeney, in a procedural ruling, held that shareholder-plaintiffs in Fairholme Funds Inc. et al. v. United States are entitled to know material facts that the government wants to keep secret. The shareholders are seeking compensation for foregone income resulting from the Treasury Department’s “sweep” rule of August 2012, which forced the companies to forward all dividends to the department in perpetuity. Government lawyers had filed a motion for a protective order on May 30 to inhibit discovery. The outcome of this case will have major implications for the future of property rights in this country.

National Legal and Policy Center has been following the situation at the Washington, D.C.-based Federal National Mortgage …

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Shareholders Publicize Suit against Federal Taking of Assets

Fannie Mae and Freddie MacFannie Mae and Freddie Mac formally are known as Government-Sponsored Enterprises, or GSEs. These days the “S” might stand for “stolen.” A group of their shareholders are arguing as much in federal court in Perry Capital v. Lew. The U.S. Treasury Department, claim the plaintiffs, overstepped its authority by impounding profits in perpetuity through its “sweep” rule of 2012. On Wednesday, February 5, the group, Shareholder Respect, held a conference in Washington, D.C. to highlight its view that the rule violates the terms of the temporary conservatorship under which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been forced to operate since 2008.  Ralph Nader, through his group, Public Citizen, organized the event. Speakers included the shareholders’ lawyer, former Solicitor General Theodore Olson. Anyone concerned over the future of property rights in this country should be following this case.

The Washington, D.C.-based Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) and the …