Report: Freddie Mac deserved larger settlement from Bank of America

People walk past a Bank of America branch on September 12, 2011 in Chicago, Ill.

Steve Chiotakis: Today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency will release a report saying Freddie Mac went way too easy on Bank of America when it accepted a $1.3 billion settlement. The FHFA oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae -- so should it have asked for more?

Marketplace New York bureau chief Heidi Moore reports.

Heidi Moore: Bank of America is the biggest mortgage lender in the country -- so as goes Bank of America, so goes the housing market. Given the fallout from the mortgage crisis, it's not surprising the bank has been in court a lot.

But maybe it was a good thing that Freddie Mac didn't push Bank of America last month for a bigger settlement than $1.3 billion. Bank of America probably can't take much more at this point.

Chris Whalen: Bank of America's getting their clock cleaned in court. Even though they've had some of success in terms of the Countrywide litigation, the success that MBIA and some of the other mortgage insurers have had in court is quite telling. They could still win most of those cases and be in bad shape.

That's Chris Whalen. He analyzes banks for Institutional Risk Analytics. He told me recently that Bank of America can't afford the full cost of all the lawsuits and settlements it's already facing.

Whalen: The money to pay these claims -- it's not clear to me where it is, by the way. I'm not sure how they get paid.

The old symbiosis between Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the banks used to be, "you let me make a buck, I'll let you make a buck." Now it's "you let me live, I'll let you live."

In New York, I'm Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.


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