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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac post profits and pay dividends to U.S.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have fully repaid the U.S. government after being bailed out in 2008
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's payments helped make last year's federal budget deficit smallest in five years

Government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac posted profits for the April-June period as the U.S. housing market continued to recover. Gains in recent years have enabled them to fully repay their government aid after being rescued during the financial crisis in 2008.

Fannie Mae reported Thursday that it earned $3.7 billion in the second quarter. Fannie, based in Washington, D.C., will pay a dividend of $3.7 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month. With its previous payments totaling $126.7 billion, Fannie has more than fully repaid the $116 billion it received from taxpayers.

Freddie Mac posted net income of $1.4 billion for the latest quarter. Freddie, based in McLean, Va., will pay a dividend of $1.9 billion to the government. Freddie will have paid $88.2 billion in dividends, exceeding its full government bailout of $71.3 billion.

Freddie had fully repaid its bailout as of last year's third quarter, and Fannie as of the fourth quarter.

The government rescued Fannie and Freddie at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008, when both veered toward collapse under the weight of losses on risky mortgages. Together the companies received taxpayer aid totaling $187 billion.

The gradual recovery of the housing market has made Fannie and Freddie profitable again. Their repayments of the government loans helped make last year's federal budget deficit the smallest in five years.

Fannie's $3.7-billion profit was down 63% from $10.1 billion in the second quarter last year. Increases in home prices slowed sharply in the April-June period from a year earlier, reducing Fannie's income, the company said.

Freddie's $1.4-billion net income declined 72% from $5 billion in the second quarter of 2013. Freddie noted that its earnings can fluctuate because of changes in the value of its holdings of derivatives, or investments used to hedge against swings in interest rates. That can create "mismatches" in quarterly earnings that may not reflect the economics of its business, Freddie said.

Freddie also said its level of earnings in recent quarters "is not sustainable over the long term."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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