The FHA has become the mortgage guarantor for too many bad mortgages:
While these are welcome trends, figures released today from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) throw a sobering splash of cold water. FHA’s FY 2012 Actuarial Study for its main single family program shows that its capital position has turned negative, by $13.5 billion. That’s a shift of $23 billion in economic value in a single year, and it puts the 78-year-old agency $34.5 billion short of its legal capital requirement.[…]
The implosion of the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008 did not end the government’s massive — and distorting — role in the housing market. Instead, in the wake of their bailouts (taxpayers have forked over $180 billion and counting), much of the risk was simply shifted to the FHA. Indeed, FHA’s insurance portfolio quadrupled in the past 5 years to $1.1 trillion today. The result is that FHA now guarantees 16 percent of all US mortgages, and 30 percent of all new home purchase mortgages. This is not an accidental trend: the FHA deliberately tried to “grow” its way out trouble, essentially betting the house on housing’s recovery. Friday’s numbers confirm that like Fannie and Freddie, it’s easy to gamble when the taxpayer covers your losses.
This wasn’t a surprise.Researchpublished last fall by the American Enterprise Institute showed that the agency had become as overleveraged as Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns before their fall. Barring a dramatic economic recovery, the report noted that the increasingly poor-quality loans the FHA absorbed to grow its portfolio would compel the agency to seek a multibillion dollar bailout. Since then, AEI’s monthly“FHA Watch”has chronicled the agency’s slide into insolvency.
It’s great AEI (a conservative think tank that is against programs like the FHA) began tracking the FHA troubles after the agency absorbed guarantees for poor quality loans that increasingly existed because of lax financial regulation climate the AEI encouraged.