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 …

Senate Committee Approves Fannie/Freddie Phaseout, But Bill Keeps Government Role

Johnson, CrapoEveryone in Washington favors “reform.” Unfortunately, the term can be highly deceptive. Such is the case of the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014 (S.1217), a bill that would abolish troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in favor of a federally-backed private insurance system. Last Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee approved the measure by a 13-9 vote. Yet the bill, sponsored by Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho (in photos), may never reach the Senate floor – and not undeservedly. For the real problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which now are profitable and have more than repaid their federal bailout debt, is not their existence; it is their subjection to tight federal control. The “new” system would retain and even expand this control, while not restoring the rights of shareholders left high and dry.

National Legal and Policy Center several times …

Chinese Company Wins Auction for Taxpayer-Backed A123 Systems

A123 logoThe auction for the assets and business of green stimulus recipient A123 Systems has been won by Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group, which aggressively sought the electric vehicle battery maker at least since the summer.

The successful bid – reported to be about $260 million – follows weeks of warnings by the U.S. government, congressmen and a group of former military and other leaders that transfer of the Massachusetts-based company would compromise American jobs, technology and security. The auction attempts to address some of those concerns, as Wanxiang was not awarded any of A123’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense. Instead the company’s “government business,” including all its military contracts, was awarded to Illinois-based Navitas Systems.

“We think we have structured this transaction to address potential national security concerns expressed during the review of our previous investment agreement with Wanxiang announced in August as well as …

Opposition Grows to Sale of A123 Systems to China

A123 logoThe Chinese government, unsurprisingly, has approved a potential sale of stimulus-funded ($279 million-plus) A123 Systems to one of its own automobile parts manufacturers, should the Wanxiang Group’s bid be the highest this week for the bankrupt electric vehicle battery maker.

That was the easy part.

So far Republican Sens. Charles Grassley (Iowa) and John Thune (S.D.) have repeatedly raised questions and concerns about the possible transfer of A123’s business, jobs and technology from the U.S. – where taxpayers have thrown in approximately $132 million only to see many times that amount in losses since its 2009 initial public offering – to China. They’re no longer the only voices speaking out against the transaction.

Last week the Strategic Materials Advisory Council, a coalition of former U.S. Government and military leaders and industry experts, announced its opposition to a transfer of A123 to Wanxiang’s control. The group sent a …

A123’s Executives Get Their Richly Undeserved Bonuses

A123 logoPresident Obama’s penchant for flushing taxpayer money down the green energy toilet lives at least another four years, and his crony supporters continue to benefit.

The latest example is the pending sell-off of assets by bankrupt A123 Systems, which was awarded upward of $279 million in stimulus funds, plus other assorted government grants and contracts. The top executives who presided over its failure – and supported the president’s cap-and-tax initiatives early in his term – are likely to receive millions of dollars in bonuses, thanks to their scheming earlier this year and a bankruptcy court judge.

Associated Press reported that that judge, Kevin Carey, ruled on Thursday that the electric vehicle battery maker can proceed with the bankruptcy process after a break-up fee – as part of a deal for Johnson Controls to buy its automotive assets – was lowered. Had a deal not been consummated, Johnson could …

VIDEO: Treasury Rejects Sale of GM Stake

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica was interviewed last night on Fox Business Network’s Willis Report. Here’s a transcript:

Cheryl Casone: Government Motors. Trying to shed its ties to Uncle Sam once and for all, pushing the sale of the U.S. stake in the company altogether. But saying goodbye is hard to do. The government’s digging in its heals, saying taxpayers would have faced a massive multibillion dollar loss. Joining me now with more is Mark Modica, associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center. This was a bad deal. I mean this was a bad deal for the taxpayers. Of course, Treasury said no to it.

Mark Modica: Hi, Cheryl, well, they have been saying no. Actually, they could have first sold the stake almost a year and a half ago when share price was over thirty, and we heard the same story. They’re not going to …

Big Obama Donor ‘Investigated’ DOE Loan Program

Herbert Allison

When is a government watchdog not really a watchdog?

When he rolls over and lays at the feet of his master rather than sink his teeth into a program that he’s been tasked to guard.

Such appears to be the (unsurprising) case with Herbert Allison, Jr. (pictured), a former Wall Street executive (Merrill Lynch and TIAA-CREF) until he was appointed president and CEO of Fannie Mae in 2008, after it was put into conservatorship. Subsequently President Obama named (and the Senate confirmed) him as overseer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the $700 billion asset acquisition fund that bailed out Wall Street financial institutions. He served in that role for about 15 months, until September 2010.

But it’s Allison’s role as a special investigator of the Department of Energy’s stimulus-funded loan program that is sparking curiosity, as explained in an Associated Press story published yesterday. Not …

The MF Global Collapse Explained (And Why It Should Be a Crime)

Corzine photoAnybody using the financial services industry puts their faith and trust in a whole lot of people they have never seen or ever will. We all rely on regulators and regulations that are instituted by state and federal governments.  In fact, almost anybody who has any savings probably has them parked in one of our financial institutions. To sharpen your focus on this, remember that about 80% of the balance of your checking account is tied up in loans that some strangers have promised to repay.

As a test of your thinking, how would you like to invest in this, as described in Wikipedia?

…2005 saw Man Financial make its largest deal with the transformative $323 million acquisition of client assets and accounts from entities of Refco, following the U.S. financial-services group’s collapse in late 2005. The Refco deal…boosted Man Financial’s scale in retail and institutional business.

In June

Obama Mortgage Borrower Bailout Prevents Foreclosures, Slows Recovery

housing chartThe mortgage foreclosure crisis in this country may have been superseded by events in Japan, Libya and elsewhere for now, but in its own way it’s taking a heavy toll. And it’s likely to get worse, given the context of evidence that an Obama-initiated homeowner subsidy program to stem the tide isn’t working and of a new federal agency poised to extract $20 billion from lenders on behalf of heavily delinquent borrowers. The agency, known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), was created by the mostly-misguided Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation signed by President Obama last July. And it’s headed by Harvard law professor-turned-populist zealot Elizabeth Warren, who appears to be making it her personal mission to shake down banks on behalf of borrowers. By all accounts, she has the full weight of the administration behind her. 

The housing market will take a while before it fully recovers from the …

CNBC: Flaherty Says Bailouts Fuel Wall Street Pay

Today I debated Wall Street pay with Keith Boykin of The Daily Voice. CNBC hosts were Melissa Francis, Larry Kudlow and Trish Regan. Here is a transcript:

Larry Kudlow: Is Wall Street pay too high? Here is what you said: Dave from Texas, “Absolutely they are overpaid. How many other American businesses have this kind of compensation”? But David from Illinois, “If we would stop being concerned about what someone else is making and focus on our own lives, the country would be better off”. Woah. Joining us now to see if the country is better off, Keith Boykin, editor of the Daily Voice and a CNBC contributor and Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center. Keith Boykin, why do we bother to play these silly games? Who is making what compared to who and how and why? Isn’t that just a little class warfare?

Keith Boykin: