Both companies released on Thursday their earnings reports for the second quarter, reporting subdued profits compared to recent quarters as settlement earnings and other previous one-time benefits subside. In 2011, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, acting as conservator for Fannie and Freddie, brought lawsuits against 18 banks for their alleged roles in bringing down the GSEs' portfolios with bad loans. The majority of those cases are now settled, leaving little for the companies to collect going forward.
Those cuts in one-time earnings were offset in part by rising home prices and improvements in credit quality.
For its part, Fannie Mae took in $3.7 billion in profits through the quarter, all of which will be handed to the Treasury per the terms of the GSEs' bailout in 2008. Freddie Mac, which reported $1.4 billion in net income, will return $1.9 billion to the government.
By September, the two mortgage giants will have paid a combined $218.7 billion back to the Treasury, more than $30 billion more than the amount they've drawn since their bailout. Under their amended agreement, dividend payments will continue to go on as the government maintains its controlling stake in the companies.
How long that situation will continue is still undecided as policymakers—from Congress to the White House—push to reform the secondary market and bring in more private capital. While recent housing finance reform bills have made some headway in committee, debates over how to proceed have stalled any further progress, and no major moves are expected this year.
Meanwhile, shareholders for the GSEs, spurred by their recent profitability, continue to pressure the companies and the government for their cut.